Lakeland agricultural attorney Michael Martin discusses shortcomings he says persisted in the adjustment of crop insurance for citrus following Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
“What we found out was that the loss adjustment manual in crop insurance talks about above-ground injury, which if you have freeze damage is very helpful,” Martin says. “But the loss adjustment manual doesn’t address the issue of standing water at all, even though the federal crop provisions do. And the adjusters simply follow the loss adjustment manual … and totally ignore the below-ground symptoms, which are really driving the bus. As you know, the roots drive the bus.”
“We tried to explain that the policy provision talks about standing water and excess rain, and the only way to adjust it is to take into account standing water, which will kill a citrus tree very quickly,” Martin says.
“We’ve gone back and readjusted groves by comparing the loss adjustment manual analysis, say from October/November, with what it should have been in April/May,” Martin adds. “So we can actually look at the trees now and see the dramatic reduction in yield” and other symptoms, including fruit drop. “We can analyze it right now. We have consultants … who can go out and do the analysis.”
Martin made a presentation on the topic at the Citrus Expo general session in August.
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