Bennet, Udall: New Farm Bill Program Will Help Colorado Producers Affected by Severe Weather

USDA Launches Program Following Request from Bennet, Udall

Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall today welcomed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will implement a new Farm Bill initiative aimed at helping farmers and ranchers affected by severe weather, including drought.

The Actual Production History (APH) Yield Exclusion would provide farmers an option to exclude low yields in their APH in cases of significantly lower yields due to drought or other natural disasters.

"From severe drought to devastating floods, Colorado's farmers have been dealt a difficult hand over the past several years," Bennet said. "The APH initiative we included in the Farm Bill will help protect our producers when these natural disasters take their toll. Our producers are a resilient group of folks, and this program will help them in the worst of circumstances. We know Colorado farmers have been anxiously waiting for this program to be implemented, and we are glad to see it moving forward."

"I am thankful Secretary Vilsack heeded my calls to implement this important reform to our nation's farm safety-net system," Udall said. "Colorado farmers and ranchers face unprecedented challenges with severe droughts, wildfires and other natural disasters. Our farmers need to have access to the best available science, research and risk management tools, in order to continue feeding our country, which is why I fought hard to pass a comprehensive, bipartisan Farm Bill. I am gratified to see this program moving forward and I will continue to push the USDA to swiftly implement the 2014 Farm Bill changes. Our farmers and ranchers have waited long enough."

Last week, Bennet and Udall urged USDA to expedite the implementation of this program.

The APH Yield Exclusion allows farmers to exclude yields in exceptionally bad years (such as a year in which a natural disaster or other extreme weather occurs) from their production history when calculating yields used to establish their crop insurance coverage. The level of insurance coverage available to a farmer is based on the farmer's average recent yields. In the past, a year of particularly low yields that occurred due to severe weather beyond the farmer's control would reduce the level of insurance coverage available to the farmer in future years. By excluding unusually bad years, farmers will not have to worry that a natural disaster will reduce their insurance coverage for years to come.

Spring crops eligible for APH Yield Exclusion include corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, barley, canola, sunflowers, peanuts, and popcorn. Nearly three-fourths of all acres and liability in the federal crop insurance program will be eligible for APH Yield Exclusion.