Approximately 30 citrus growers, crop insurance agents and others listened to proposed crop insurance changes, and offered suggestions, during a “listening session” in Bartow on Nov. 7. The session was conducted primarily by Florida Citrus Mutual consultant AgriLogic Consulting. Mutual CEO Mike Sparks discussed the session, which was one of three being held this week.
“It was absolutely clear, as a result of Hurricane Irma, that Florida citrus crop insurance was woefully inadequate,” Sparks said. AgriLogic and Mutual have been working on proposed improvements to the federally subsidized program for a year. In the short term, they are proposing improvements to the existing program; longer term, they are proposing a new program.
A major problem of the existing insurance program, Sparks said, is that “it was not nearly adequate to even cover production (costs). Many growers literally walked away from insurance because it was not a good value. There have been frustrations over the years of insurance premiums being paid and … no indemnification payments made.”
The new program would be based on a grower’s actual production history.
“Any time you recommend a change … there are concerns,” Sparks said. Questions being asked, he said, include: “What are the benefits? How much more is it going to cost? Will it cost less?” But he said he hears most saying, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. What we have is a disaster. Let’s move forward.”
The proposed new program being discussed would have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which subsidizes federal crop insurance. Mutual and its consultants are hoping the new program will be implemented for the 2020–21 citrus season.
Hear more from Sparks:
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