On November 22, 2019, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) issued Product Management Bulletin: PM-19-063 regarding Rice Crop Provision changes effective for the 2010 crop year. RMA states it revised the Rice Crop Provisions through a Final Rule published in the Federal Register on November 22, 2019. The Final Rule makes change that allow for new irrigation methods to implement the changes contained in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. RMA stated it was also changing the cancellation and termination dates in certain states to align with other row crops. While the rule was final, RMA provided a comment period until January 21, 2019.
ANALYSIS – The bulletin contains scant details but a review of the Final Rule shows that RMA added additional cancellation and termination dates of March 15 for Illinois and Missouri. RMA is also allowing additional irrigation methods if specified in the Special Provision. In the past only flood irrigation was covered, which meant the rice field was continuously flooded during the entire growing season and not drained until preparations for harvest. Now RMA is allowing intermittent flood irrigation and furrow irrigation because they use less water and lower greenhouse gasses while producing a similar yield. Intermittent flood irrigation allows flood water to subside naturally during the growing period before the field is reflooded. Furrow irrigation is when furrows are created to convey water down the field with such capacity and equipment to assure water delivery to all rice plants in the field.
RMA claims that the yields are similar between flood irrigation and the new alternatives but they are apparently not the same. There is nothing in the Final Rule or the preamble to requires or allows for an adjustment in the producer’s yield history. This may be because there is not an actuarial impact for these new practices but, if that is the case, the rule should have so stated.
All statements made are opinions of the author and are not intended to provide legal opinions or legal advice.