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Management

Plan now for 2010 range insurance

Written by Jennifer Womack
Casper — Improvements continue to be made to an insurance program that allows ranchers across the region to insure their ranches against losses to drought.
    Aaron Tattersall with Silveus Insurance Group says the biggest change going into 2010 is that the Pasture, Rangeland and Forage Vegetative Index (PRF-VI) insurance will run on a calendar year. Producers will be allowed to choose their months of coverage to best suit growing conditions on their ranch. “They can dial in their production season with the interval options available,” he explains. For Wyoming ranchers the coverage months available are April through October set up in five staggered intervals. So, you won’t be forced to cover a month not important to your operation like you were in 2009 with only four intervals covering all 12 months.
    The Vegetation Index uses the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data from the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science data center. The NDVI is an alternative measure of vegetation greenness and correlates to vegetation conditions and productive capacity. In general, healthier plants are given the higher NDVI value. Losses calculated using the Vegetation Index are indemnified based on the deviation from normal. Data used to determine “normal” in a given area is derived from research spanning back to 1989.
    The federal government subsidizes the insurance, with participants paying 41-49 percent of their total premium depending on the coverage level. Participation in the PRF program qualifies a landowner for disaster payments. 2010 marks the third year the insurance has been available in Wyoming.
    “It depends on whom you ask,” says Tattersall when asked if the new approach is a positive change. He believes changes made for the 2010 year will further improve the product. “Analyzing an operation and looking at how those indexes have worked in the past is important in how you should set it up in a certain year,” he says.
    Much of Wyoming saw improved conditions in 2009, with Johnson County being the exception. Tattersall says July/August/September numbers aren’t yet available regarding the effectiveness in that area where Governor Dave Freudenthal has requested a drought declaration.
    “For 2009 the first interval numbers for April/May/June were available on Sept. 3,” says Tattersall. “Last year the July/Aug/Sept (interval 2) numbers weren’t released until Dec. 10.”
    Deadline to purchase the insurance for 2010 is Nov. 30, 2009. Tattersall says those producers who don’t have a farm serial number from the Farm Service Agency need to acquire one to participate in the program. The deadline for purchasing coverage for 2011 has been moved up to Sept. 30, 2010.
    In 2009 in Wyoming, 4.4 million acres are covered under the PRF VI program with five counties accounting for 75 percent of the state’s coverage.
    As this edition of the Roundup went to press Tattersall was researching the relationship between grasshopper infestations and the vegetation index. It’s a factor, given this year’s extensive grasshopper population, that could influence a landowner’s decision as to whether or not to purchase 2010 coverage.
    To find an agent who offers the product, visit RMA’s website at www3.rma.usda.gov/tools/agents/companies. Aaron Tattersall can be reached at 877-376-8811. Several producer tools, including additional information on the grid system and options included in the program, can also be located at the RMA website. Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..