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Winter is a time to plan for the next growing season. While it may be easiest to simply renew existing crop insurance policies, you may be leaving money on the table and exposing your farm to extra risk. By annually revisiting a farm’s risk management strategy and asking your crop insurance agent questions, you’ll optimize your coverage decisions.

1. How have the multi-peril crop programs changed?

The national crop insurance program is constantly evolving. Examining these changes annually can uncover new opportunities and potential savings. For example: Did you know the definition of "replant" is changing in 2018? Or that coverage on irrigated and non-irrigated acres can be customized?

2. Have recent changes on the farm affected your expected planted acres?

As farms seize opportunities to expand their farmland or sell off non-income producing assets, their coverage needs change. This can be true if added acres have a strong production history that may change your guarantee. To ensure you have the correct coverage, share any farm business or personal changes with your crop insurance agent. These changes may include adding or removing partners, changing crop mix, forming a new entity, and changing your marital status.

3. How much risk should your farm business endure this year?

Establishing an estimated cost of production gives you two pieces of critical information – how much money is required to grow your crops and how much insurance is needed to cover this investment in case of a crop failure. While the current agriculture economic cycle continues, you may want to consider increasing coverage levels to mitigate risk and maintain equity in the event of a substantial loss.

4. How can crop insurance bolster your marketing plan?

By establishing your cost of production and planting intentions for 2018, you can begin to use crop insurance to aid your marketing plan. If you choose a Revenue Protection policy, you can forward market confidently because of the bushel guarantee.

5. Can educational programs teach about new options?

Winter is the perfect time to brush up on your skills, explore new techniques, and learn from other farmers in your region. Crop insurance companies will likely host informational winter meetings to share updates on the federal crop insurance program – much like Farm Credit Illinois‘ Fielding Forward crop insurance meetings.

Evaluating crop insurance coverage options annually helps you understand the best policies for your farm business’s needs. Having a frank and timely conversation with your crop insurance agent is the most effective way to develop a risk management plan to protect your farm business.

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