With the Farmers Almanac predicting an active storm season for remainder of summer, and recent thunderstorms that pounded eastern Montana, Montana State Auditor John Morrison is reminding should serve as a reminder to crop producers to check hail insurance coverage for their 2007 crops.
June’s hail storms caused damage to thousands of acres of cropland in eastern and central Montana. In addition to strong winds and hail, about 2.5 inches of rain reportedly fell in some of the hardest-hit areas. As a result, fields are so muddy that producers are not able to get out into the croplands to assess the full extent of the damage.
“With cash crops at record-high prices, crop insurance is an essential part of the safety net for Montana ag producers,” Morrison said. “Producers who sustained damage from the recent hail storms should contact their agent as soon as they can accurately assess the damage.”
According to the National Weather Service, about 4,800 hailstorms strike the United States every year. Of these, probably 500 to 700 produce hailstones large enough to cause damage or injury. These devastating storms can sweep across a field destroying all crops and vegetation in a matter of minutes. Worldwide, annual crop losses from hail represent about 1 percent of the total annual agricultural production. But in the U.S. Grain Belt, hailstorms destroy about 3 percent of crops grown each year.
In response to the risk of hail, many farmers carry hail insurance.
The federal crop insurance program is a public-private partnership that provides producers with essential tools to manage the risks they face. In the event of a severe hailstorm, hail insurance can help producers recover economic losses even though the crop may be completely destroyed, Morrison said.
To document damage after a storm, the “after picture” should be collected as soon as possible, he advised. This is important because depending on storm extent and number of claims, plant re-growth may occur before the hail adjuster arrives.
“These days, Montana producers are checking their fields nearly every day, wondering what the weather will bring between now and the end of harvest,” Morrison said. “Summer thunderstorm season increases that uncertainty. If you do see damage, what you do, and what you don’t do, can have an impact on your crop insurance protection.”
For tips on handling crop damage, visit http://sao.mt.gov/. Montanans needing insurance information or assistance also can contact the Montana State Auditor’s office at 800-332-6148.
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