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Pilot program for hemp crop insurance coming to Montana

Posted at 10:48 AM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-08 16:34:05-05

GREAT FALLS — At a Montana Farmers Union meeting in Great Falls on Tuesday night, farmers and ranchers from across the state were introduced to a pilot insurance coverage program that could make big waves in 2020.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s risk management agency announced last month that select counties in 21 states would be eligible for the new pilot insurance program, and Montana is one of those states.

The new policy will cover hemp grown for fiber, grain, or CBD oil during the 2020 crop year, and will protect against any potentially catastrophic weather events or natural disasters that could damage hemp crops.

“Obviously, there’s all sorts of catastrophic weather events that, once you have your seed in the ground, you could lose your investment,” explained Montana Farmers Union Farm Insurance Agent Aeric Reilly. “It’s a big investment to put your hemp seed in the ground and then just let it sit for three months until it’s ready to be harvested. It gives you a little bit of peace of mind and a way to manage your risk.”

Previously, only hail-related damages were covered by hemp insurance, and even that is relatively new.

“We’ve been able to do hemp-hail the last couple years, which just protects against hail losses, but now we have the opportunity to do your multi-peril and also product liability, so for farmers that are growing hemp and then processing,” said Reilly. “We have the ability to insure that as well and give you that product liability for those putting CBD oils out, so there’s a whole gambit of ways to manage your risk when you’re getting into this new industry.”

Starting in 2021, hemp will be insurable under the nursery crop insurance program and the nursery value select pilot crop insurance program.

Reilly says that the idea came about thanks to the rising popularity of hemp production and use around the country.

“Anytime there’s a farm commodity, we’ve had federally-insured, federally backed crop insurance,” he said. “The idea of multi-peril crop insurance has been around for a long time, so the fact that the production of hemp has continued to grow in Montana, there’s more and more of a need. It’s not just Montana, a lot of other states throughout the United States that are growing hemp as well.”

Some of the other states include Alabama, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. To learn more about the new insurance program and to see the full list of states and counties that qualify, click here to visit the USDA website.