New Vermont farm insurance for extreme weather proposed by senators

Farm Insurance - New Law in Vermont

The increasing risk of flooding has the lawmakers looking to ways of protecting producers

Following the flooding experienced by farmers in Vermont last year, a survey showed that 70 percent of them didn’t have farm insurance to cover their crops and/or livestock.

Coverage wasn’t always available

This wasn’t just a matter of choosing not to obtain coverage. For another 10 percent of the respondents, the type of farm insurance they would have needed didn’t exist.  This meant that only about one in every five food producers had coverage in place to protect them against losses from natural disasters such as flooding.

Farm Insurance - Flooding in farm fields

Flooding has become extremely problematic to farmers in the state. Even after making extensive efforts to protect their properties, crops and livestock against floodwaters, many still suffer profoundly as fields fill with water and barns, other structures and equipment are damaged.

Last July was particularly hard on those without farm insurance

Last summer, flooding reached historic levels in the state. Crops, animals, structures and equipment were lost.  This meant that the farmers lost their investments into those products and into their farms, but also lost what would have been their source of revenue.

Since early December 2023, two US senators from Vermont joined senators from Massachusetts to introduce a new federal bill designed to support farmers facing this type of natural disaster risk.

The Withstanding Extreme Agricultural Threats by Harvesting Economic Resilience Act

The senators called it the Withstanding Extreme Agricultural Threats by Harvesting Economic Resilience Act, and it would have a new index-based farm insurance policy developed to provide coverage for agricultural income losses when producers experience extreme weather events. The goal is to offer financial support more quickly and with fewer administrative fees than is available through the existing crop insurance program, said the sponsors of the bill.

While many farmers are leery of government-based coverage, having struggled with it on a spectrum of levels in the past, the senators behind the bill believe that this new type of coverage could help to strengthen food producers against the risks associated with the types of extreme weather that are becoming more frequent and severe with climate change.

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