Alta. to loosen crop insurance rules in dry areas

Alberta’s provincial crop insurance agency plans to use average area yields this year to speed up pre-harvest claims as needed on its most parched cropland.

“This gives producers the option of having their crops released over the phone without an inspection,” Agriculture Minister George Groeneveld said Monday, announcing the changes planned by the province’s Agriculture Financial Services Corp. (AFSC).

AFSC noted it has available adjusting resources in all areas of the province, and will continue to monitor the timeliness of its inspections. This alternative for “expediting the process” will be put in place if the volume of inspections increases to a point where timeliness can no longer be provided consistently, the province said.

Where crop loss is consistent and severe, the province said, average yields will be determined on a township level. Claims may be released from the office, without an inspection, if the farmer client accepts the area average appraisal.

“We’ve learned from the 2002 drought and as a result are implementing these proactive procedures which reflect the full spectrum of producer needs,” Groeneveld said.

Payments will be made to producers once AFSC has confirmed the crop has been put to an alternate use, the province said.

And insured producers still have to contact their AFSC District Offices five days before they put a crop to an alternate use, such as grazing, silaging or spraying out the crop to conserve moisture and fertilizer reserves.

AFSC adjusters will inspect the acres in question and appraise a yield potential at the time of the inspection. AFSC values the potential production and will not appraise fields at zero production if there is a potential for a harvestable crop, the province warned.

AFSC will later confirm that the acres have been put to the alternate use “to ensure that production from those acres is not eventually harvested and counted again in the fall as harvested production.”

Full AgriInsurance coverage began on June 21 for annual crops. For 2009, AFSC recently announced haying was considered to be “general” on June 22, thus starting up full coverage for insured hayland.

AFSC also noted that the seeding deadline for acres insured under the Silage/Greenfeed Lack of Moisture plan is July 15.

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