A pilot program for Crop Revenue Coverage in 1996 let corn and soybean growers in Nebraska and Iowa stick their toes in CRC waters. Last year this new insurance concept really caught on, and for 1998, CRC has been expanded to include more crops and more states.

Bryant Knoerzer, Elwood, NE, likes CRC because it gives him more options. "CRC gets more bang for the buck," he adds.

He goes with coverage at the 65% level and will invest "greater than $15, but less than $20 per acre in crop insurance this year." That includes some hail insurance.

Bryant and his father, William, farm 1,200 acres of irrigated land, nearly all of it ridge-tilled corn. There are 120 acres of soybeans, some of which are rotated to popcorn. Crop insurance is nothing new to the Knoerzers but CRC is. They were in the pilot program and were covered by it in 1997.

"CRC takes a different approach," says Bryant. "There's upside and downside price protection, and its cash-value protection increases your confidence to be more aggressive with your marketing. I can get into forward contracting and lock in some prices, and I have other options since we feed about a thousand head of our own cattle a year."

A key player with the Knoerzers is American Agrisurance agent Jim Baldanado, president of The Home Agency in Elwood. He held meetings early on with the Knoerzers and other area producers to explain the new CRC policy.

Another area farmer, Jay Beck, opted to wait and see during the CRC pilot year, but signed on for CRC in 1997, after carrying Multiple Peril insurance in previous years.

"I really didn't use it for forward contracting, but what attracted me was the fact that CRC protects the crops in the field as well as the price end," Beck reports. "If you have a loss, they take the higher of the spring or fall pricing period. If the price rises, you get the difference."

Practically his entire farm is in beans. Last year he grew 850 acres, 562 of them irrigated. Every acre is no-tilled.

He feels CRC is a safety net for him and his bank. He selects the 65% coverage level.

"I've found the higher levels to be cost-prohibitive, but it's true that numerous coverage levels are available with CRC," Beck says.

"It may take a while for some of us operators to get comfortable with pricing a crop before it's planted," he adds. "But with CRC it is feasible. I could have locked in some $7 beans last year, but didn't. I'll take another look this time around."