Thiesse’s Thoughts

The 2007 growing season is now underway, and farm operators in some areas have already planted many of their soybeans. Other areas will be planting soybeans in the next couple of weeks. Throughout the winter and early spring, there has been considerable discussion about the potential for Asian soybean rust in 2007, scouting for the disease, treatment options, etc. One topic that has been discussed recently is how an incidence of soybean rust will be handled for crop insurance indemnity claims. This is a rather complex issue and insurance coverage will be largely dependent on the management practices followed by farm operators. The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) has published several pieces of information regarding crop insurance coverage regarding crop losses from Asian soybean rust. Following is a brief summary.

The crop losses from soybean rust are covered by crop insurance, if the losses are unavoidable and were due to naturally occurring events.The grower must follow “good farming practices,” work with local experts and be able to document all actions taken to control and manage soybean rust. In addition to the basic crop insurance policy provisions, RMA has expanded the definition of “good farming practices” relative to disease control measures. To determine if disease control measures are considered “good farming practices,” agricultural experts must answer four questions:

Will the recommended disease control measure…
…Allow the insured crop to make normal progress toward maturity?
…Produce at least the yield used to determine the production guarantee or amount of insurance, including any adjustments for late planted acreage?
…Not reduce or adversely affect the yield, if it is applied or not applied to the crop?
…Be generally recognized for the area, or be contained in the organic plan, if applicable?

The answers to these questions must be positive. RMA states that if the answer to any of the above questions is negative, the disease control measure would not be considered a “good farming practice.” RMA does not consider the cost or economics of the control measure for determining if “good farming practices”have been followed.

RMA recommends documentation of the following data and information for good documentation of soybean rust control efforts by producers:
-Data from local weather stations, Farm Service Agency (FSA) Reports and published articles in newspapers, newsletters and magazines.
-Printed and Web site information from land grant universities, the Extension Service, crop consultants or other agricultural experts.
-Journals and logs that list the date of control measures and application method, product, conditions, etc. (Include fungicide labels.)
-A producer should save any information, articles, etc. that may have been used in the decision-making process for controlling Asian soybean rust.

The latest management information on soybean rust is available on the Minnesota Soybean Grower’s Association Web Site at: http://www.mnsoybean.org/

The best source for Crop Insurance information is from local Crop Insurance Agents or on the RMA Web Site at: www.rma.usda.gov/news/soybeanrust


Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.