Pecan insurance gets approval

All Georgia pecan producers will be able to insure their 2003 crop following the USDA's decision to expand a pilot crop insurance program. The pilot program previously was available only to those producers in Doughtery, Lee and Mitchell counties.

The board of directors of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC), which oversees the USDA's Risk Management Agency, voted to expand the pilot program to an additional 79 Georgia counties and agreed to expand the pilot program nationwide for the 2004 crop.

The pilot program offering crop insurance for pecans first was made available in 1998 to the largest pecan-producing counties in Georgia, New Mexico and Texas. Georgia producers considered expansion of the program critical to the success of their industry.

The insurance program is intended to protect producers against unavoidable loss of revenue due to insured causes when yields or prices fall. Coverage is purchased for two-year time periods because of the biennial bearing tendencies of pecan trees. Coverage, premiums and indemnities are processed on a yearly basis. The amount of insurance per acre is based on the producer's individual average gross sales and coverage level elected.

Georgia leads the United States in pecan production. Last year, Georgia pecan orchards yielded 110 million pounds, but market price reached an average of only 61 cents per pound, the lowest price on record for the past eight years.

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