The USDA announced two programs that will be available to protect hemp producers’ crops from natural disasters. These programs should be less expensive than what was available to Kansas hemp growers last year. Because of the high costs, many farmers last year were unable to insure their crops.


"The rules last year were based on a problematic ’whole farm’ insurance program. The new USDA programs set the path to more traditional coverage," said Christian Coleman, president of Sunnyland Kansas, a hemp farm in Kansas. "The 2020 program resembles traditional crop insurance but is limited to a ’pilot’ program where only certain states and counties can qualify."


To qualify for these programs, the farmer must have planted in 2019; this works for many Kansas hemp farmers. But because of this crop’s complexities and legal issues, it is recommended that anyone interested in these programs speak with a crop insurance specialist in their local market.


A pilot hemp insurance program through Multi-Peril Crop Insurance will provide coverage against loss of yield. The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program coverage will protect against losses that show lower yields, destroyed crops or prevented planting where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available.


"Anytime there’s a safety gate, that is good. It’s nice to have something to support you when nature does otherwise," said Eli Svaty, executive director of the Seward County Development Corporation. "There is just no guarantee in farming. It’s seven days a week, 24 hours a day."


Svaty sees hemp as a viable crop for southwestern Kansas. He understands the risks of farming and is excited that there is a safety net for this new crop.


The deadline to sign up for both programs is March 16. For more information on USDA risk management programs for hemp producers, visit farmers.gov/hemp.