VENEDY, Ill. — Hail damage and wind damage are crop insurance claims that Eric Brammeier is used to seeing in his off-farm job as owner and agent of SC Crop Insurance.
But 2023 could show up another way that crop insurance provides a safety net for farmers.
“It’s been over a decade since 2012 and that was certainly the worst year in our neck of the woods. In southern Illinois, this year could be similar to that,” Brammeier said.
“It’s supposed to start raining and during the first week of July. I hope that happens. But crop insurance is there, the safety net is there, if it doesn’t.”
Brammeier said the last weekend in June was brutal to crops as farmers finished wheat harvest and turned to planting double-crop soybeans throughout southern Illinois.
“We need rain. It’s been very spotty rains in the last three weeks. Most people received less than an inch in the three weeks before June 29. I received less than a half inch,” he said.
Brammeier said one question he gets now is about prevent-plant and double-crop soybeans.
“I get the question — do I have to plant my beans into my dry dirt? You certainly have prevent-plant coverage for soybeans, but that does not become an option until July 5,” he said.
“My recommendation to my customers is, especially now, down here, now that the wheat is off, try to get your beans planted. Your coverage is almost double if you get your beans planted than if you don’t.”
Brammeier said that while drought is a cause to use prevent-plant coverage, coverage of planted beans will be greater.
“Most of my customers are better off trying to get their beans planted and praying for a rain,” he said.
Brammeier said the crop insurance safety net can work in a couple of different ways in a drought situation.
“The first way is that a lot of farmers have maybe sold a little bit ahead, forward contracted, for harvest delivery. Your crop insurance policy, depending on the type of policy you buy, will cover you and provide you dollars to buy bushels to cover those forward contracted bushels that you have locked in,” he said.
“Depending on the policy you have, that will either replace those bushels at our beginning price, which was $5.91 for corn, or higher this fall if the price is higher. If you don’t catch rain sooner rather than later, your crop insurance policy is there to provide you replacement bushels and to fill those contracts.”
For livestock producers who are counting on bushels as feed, crop insurance works in a similar way.
“If you are a livestock farmer, depending on the yields to feed your animals, your crop insurance policy will replace those bushels, depending on the policy you bought, and take some of that risk off the table,” Brammeier said.
Right now, the crop insurance process is at the reporting phase.
“We are into reporting season at the FSA offices and also to the crop insurance agents. Everybody must make sure all their acres are correct and make sure your shares are correct,” Brammeier said.
While Brammeier said he hopes that he and others in southern Illinois will soon receive the needed rains, he said this year could make the case for crop insurance as a safety net in dry weather, as well as severe weather.
“Hopefully, they will raise a good crop, and if it doesn’t turn out, they have coverage,” he said.