This fall marks the first time winter wheat growers can protect their profits from weather-related losses not covered by federal crop insurance. WeatherBill is launching the first full-season weather insurance for the 2012 winter wheat crop. Jeff Hamlin, Director of Agronomic Research for WeatherBill:
"What our company does is we use weather as a way to allow growers to insure the top-end yield, the top-end bushels that they can't insure through the Federal Crop Insurance program. So the way this works is a grower tells his agent what county he is in and that he's growing winter wheat. And our system will put back a policy that protects the crop against the key weather events that drive yield throughout the course of the growing season -- all the way from the fall planting through the spring and summer harvest -- and the way that these policies work is that they just pay based on the occurance of bad weather at specific times of the year. And growers, what they like about it is there's no claims process, no documentation of ATH, or yields, or dealing with acres reports. They get checks in the mail, if they have bad weather at a key time of the year."
SFN: Now why is it a good time for growers to insure the profitability of their winter wheat crop?
"I think all growers understand that the costs of input are rising pretty dramatically -- whether it's the seed, the fertilizer, the chemical programs, the cash rent they may be paying -- everything seems to be going up. And so a grower has a lot more at risk these days coming into a season, he has to have that cash outlay at the start and if things go wrong, Federal Crop Insurance is there to some extent to help make sure he maintains some level of revenue, but in most cases growers are not able to insure their profitability through Federal Crop Insurance alone. And so they can still farm at a loss, if they have a bad enough yield to trigger a crop insurace claim. And so, a lot of growers are saying, 'That's just not a situation I'm comfortable with...', and our program really presents one of the only ways of insuring profitability by covering those top-end bushels that the Federal Program can't cover."
SFN: Now let's talk about weather events are covered by total weather insurance:
"What we've done is work with local university agronomists around the country to understand what are the key drivers of yield, from a weather perspective. But essentially, what we want to do is make sure that the crop maintains its chances of making optimum yield, from planting all the way through harvest."
SFN: When will WeatherBill's total weather insurance for winter wheat be available and how can growers sign up?
"It is available now and it's available through weatherbill.com. Basically, the best way for a grower to find out about the product is to go to our website, click on "Find an Agent". The product has to be bought by September 30th and in many cases the deadline could be earlier because it's always ten days before the coverage starts. So if a grower wants coverage starting September 10th, it's going to need to be bought by September 1st."
SFN: The seven major weather events that WeatherBill crop insurance covers are early stage drought, planting rain, freeze damage, spring drought, heat stress and harvest rain. Again, for more information go to www.weatherbill.com, and click on ‘Find an Agent.’