From September 5 through 10, 2019, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) issued Fact Sheets for a number of crops including Canola and Rapeseed, Apples, Tobacco, Forage, Dry Beans, Cotton, Coarse Grains, Grapes, Potatoes, Peanuts, Stonefruit, Small Grains Barley and Wheat, Small Grains Buckwheat, Flax, Oats, and Rye. These Fact Sheets contain basic information such as sales closing dates, the crop insured, the insurance period, acreage reporting requirements, causes of loss, duties in the event of damage or loss, coverage levels and premium subsidies, insurance units, and coverage options. There is a disclaimer at the bottom of each fact sheet that states “This fact sheet gives only general a general overview of the crop insurance program and is not a complete policy. For further information and an evaluation of your risk management needs, contact a crop insurance agent.”
ANALYSIS – These fact sheets may provide useful information and compiles in one location information that is otherwise found in different policy documents, such as the Crop Provisions and the actuarial documents. However, these fact sheets are not part of the policy. A problem may arise with consistency between the policy documents and the fact sheets. When different documents repeat the same information and they are drafted at different times, the likelihood of inconsistencies increases. For this reason, RMA has been revising policies to contain cross references when multiple documents contain the same information instead of repeating the information.
Further, there is nothing in the fact sheet that tells producers what happens if there is an inconsistency. The Common Crop Insurance Policy Basic Provisions and all other plans of insurance contain a priority list or specifically states what documents control when there are inconsistencies. These fact sheets are not referenced in the policy. Further, they are not considered procedures. The disclaimer in the fact sheet needs to be more robust.
Before relying on any information in any fact sheet, participants in the crop insurance program should review the policy documents to ensure the information is correct.
All statements made are opinions of the author and are not intended to provide legal opinions or legal advice.