On July 19, 2019, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) issued a Managers Bulletin MGR-19-020, which provides additional time for acreage reporting in Louisiana due to Tropical Storm Barry. RMA states that due to previous flooding and excess moisture this spring and oncoming Tropical Storm Barry have increased the likelihood that producers will be dealing with emergency situations. RMA states that they have received requests to allow additional time for spring seeded crops to submit acreage reports due to difficulties to properly determine and report the insured amount of acreage or prevented planting acreage due to damage to transportation infrastructure, homes, and businesses.
RMA states that approved insurance providers may permit producers to file acreage reports for all 2019 spring seeded crops until July 22, 2019, for all counties in Louisiana. RMA also states that while additional time is being provided they encourage producers to file as soon as possible because claims cannot be completed until acreage reports have been filed and liability established. RMA also states that additional time to submit acreage reports does to extend to other due dates that are tied to the acreage reporting date, such as when written agreement and added land requests must be made and received.
ANALYSIS – Impossibility has always been recognized by RMA as a defense to strict enforcement of the policy provisions and allows for modifications to the policy after the contract change date. The above stated severe weather conditions seem to fall squarely within those situations in the past where impossibility was recognized and dates extended. The problem is in the application of the impossibility defense. If it is impossible to timely submit acreage reports because of damage to transportation infrastructure, homes and businesses it would also seem to be impossible to timely submit written agreements and added land requests. This bulletin fails to provide a rational basis why these deadlines are treated differently.
All statements made are opinions of the author and are not intended to provide legal opinions or legal advice.