Regional USDA-RMA Director Jim Bellman Shares His Insider Advice on Shopping for Crop InsuranceMon, 06 Aug 2018 12:58:19 CDT
Planting season is approaching and many producers are beginning to consider their options for crop insurance this year. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn sat down recently with Jim Bellman, director of the Oklahoma City Regional Office for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, to share with producers some of his insights on crop insurance as a risk management tool. Listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
Bellman describes his role as the “go-between” for the Federal Crop Insurance Program and the various companies and agents that sell the products, ensuring that both policy and product are equitable, fair and meet the needs of the producer.
“I think crop insurance is a good tool that helps producers survive the natural disasters that come about,” Bellman said, who oversees the entire Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico region. “There’s always a disaster going on somewhere in our region and crop insurance keeps producers going from one year to the next - making sure people here and in the big cities have food for the table.”
Crop insurance has been a subject of contention for some groups, politically speaking, often being criticized especially in times like now when Farm Bill policy is being developed. Bellman argues, that those who are critical of the program should consider educating themselves on the risk that is involved in farming and how crop insurance is important to our national security as a tool that ensures a safe and reliable domestic food supply.
“Honestly, I think we’ve got a lot of people that don’t really realize where their food comes from,” he remarked. “Politically, I think crop insurance is seen as a positive thing in a Farm Bill for most folks. People recognize that it is a good tool and it helps producers through tough situations.”
In his position, Bellman works with agents and companies and producers on a day-to-day basis, often collaborating on solutions that ultimately help farmers shield themselves from the unexpected in a cost-efficient manner. He has learned from experience that no two farming businesses are alike. Which is why the insurance products available are all widely flexible and can be tailored-made to any producer’s desired level of coverage. He says that while every producer’s needs are different, his advice to them is always the same when asked about where to start when looking for the right crop insurance program.
“I always tell them - they need to set back and look at their operation, see what kind of risk management tools they need and then go talk to their local agent and see what products are available,” he said. “They can also always get on our website. There are all kinds of fact sheets and information to help them with their decisions. There’s also an agent locator tool to help connect them with a local provider that knows their specific area.”
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