U.S. Crop Insurance Claims Jump Amid Planting Delays, USDA Says

By Whitney McFerron and Jeff Wilson | September 17, 2013

U.S. farmers who were prevented from planting by rain this year filed crop insurance claims on six times more land than last season, the government said.

Farmers filed claims on 8.213 million acres of grains, oilseeds, cotton and sugar as of Sept. 1, according to revised estimates released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. That compares with 7.71 million acres at the beginning of August and last year’s total of 1.239 million acres. The FSA is set to update its data monthly through January, with its next report on Oct. 16.

Parts of the Midwest, including top corn and soybean growers Iowa and Illinois, saw double the normal amount of rain in April and May, when farmers usually sow crops, National Weather Service data show. Farmers planted a total of 246.3 million acres enrolled in government programs, including failed acreage, down from 250.76 million a year earlier, the FSA said.

“Some parts of the Corn Belt have been hit by weather problems throughout the season,” said Kieran Walsh, a broker of agricultural derivatives at Aurel BCG in Paris. “Delayed plantings and the higher number make sense.”

Crop prices rallied today on the Chicago Board of Trade as corn for delivery in December rose as much as 2.6 percent to $4.685 a bushel and soybeans for delivery in November added as much as 1.2 percent to $13.65 a bushel. Corn is still down 45 percent since reaching a record $8.49 a bushel last year as drought slashed U.S. yields, while soybeans slumped 24 percent from last year’s all-time high of $17.89 a bushel.

Corn Harvest

Crop insurance claims covered 3.57 million acres of corn as of Sept. 1, up from 3.41 million in August and from last year’s total of 262,467 acres, the FSA said. The USDA said Sept. 12 farmers might harvest a record 13.843 billion bushels of the grain, more than previously estimated, as yields recover from last year’s drought.

Soybean claims were filed on 1.69 million acres, compared with 1.62 million in August and 159,579 acres last year, according to the report. The U.S. harvest may total 3.149 billion bushels, less than expected in August while still 4.4 percent more than last year.

Farmers filed crop insurance claims on 1.98 million acres of wheat, up from 1.74 million in August, while rice claims at 418,021 acres rose from 408,737 acres a month earlier, the FSA said. Claims for upland cotton increased to 205,410 acres from 197,116 acres, according to the report.

(Editors: Dan Weeks, Nicholas Larkin)

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