What Are USDA Risk Management Programs? 

by Jake Jacobs, UVM Crop Insurance Education Coordinator

Farming is risky business. No matter how well your farm is managed, or the steps you take to reduce the risks in your operation, unexpected events can cause losses that may severely impact your farm’s viability. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides programs for farmers and ranchers to help manage the many types of agricultural risk that they routinely face operating their enterprises and to moderate potential losses. 


Jake Jacobs, UVM Crop Insurance Education Coordinator

Crop Insurance USDA crop insurance programs are available to producers as a tool to help manage production and market risks on farming operations. Crop insurance programs are administered by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) and are available only from private insurance agents licensed by USDA. Like other types of insurance, you need to decide what risks you want to cover and enroll prior to any loss. Once you find out about your crop insurance options, you can then make an informed decision about enrolling or managing those risks some other way. 

Disaster Assistance  USDA also provides disaster assistance programs through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). These programs help agricultural producers recover from natural disasters that cause losses not covered by other programs. An example of a disaster assistance program available through FSA is the Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). 

Price Support  Through FSA, farmers and ranchers can access programs and services that provide financial assistance in the form of loans or market loss assistance. Examples include Commodity Loans, Facility Loans and the Dairy Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers (MPP-Dairy). 

Your Risk Management Plan The only truly predictable part of farming is how unpredictable it can be! Consider those factors that pose a risk to your enterprise and make decisions about how you can minimize losses caused by unplanned weather or market events. 

An insurance agent can present all the insurance options and programs available for your farm. To find an agent licensed to sell crop insurance in Vermont, go to the RMA Agent locator.

This material is funded in partnership with USDA, Risk Management Agency, under award number RM17RMETS524005. Any reference to commercial products, trade names, or brand names is for information only, and no endorsement or approval is intended. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. University of Vermont Extension, Burlington, Vermont. University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.

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About Suzy Hodgson

Suzy works on and writes about issues at the intersections of risk, climate, environment, and economics in farming including food, fiber, waste, and energy. She is based at UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
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