Protect Your Hay Investment with Forage Insurance & Forage Seeding Insurance
Daniel Muhlenbeck; Greenstone Crop Insurance Specialist
forage insurance

It takes a lot of effort and money to have a good first year new seeding crop of alfalfa and to keep the stand going for five years.


The planting year of hay may be covered by a new seeding insurance policy. Spring Forage Seeding insurance is a dollar value insurance and it works differently than most other types of crop insurance. It uses a reference price set by the Risk Management Agency (RMA), which in 2020 was $251 per acre. Coverage levels range between 50%–85%, meaning if plants die you are paid between $126–$213 per acre. The cost of coverage usually ranges from $4–$17 per acre. Also, you can take catastrophic coverage (CAT) for a fee of $655 that would pay $70 per acre for a loss.


If your field has acres where the plants died, you need to turn in a timely claim and the adjuster will do a stand count to see if you will have a loss. Claims are paid out on an acre by acre basis and the whole field does not need to be winter killed for a claim to be paid out. Two examples would be: 


  • A 60% policy on 100 planted acres with 5 acres dead will pay an indemnity of $753 for those 5 acres. ($251 x 60% = $150.5 coverage, then $150.5 x 5 acres = $753 indemnity)
  • Or, on 50 planted acres, you have 70% policy and 20 acres die, you would be paid $3,514 for those 20 acres. ($251 x 70% = $175.7 coverage, $175.7 x 20 = $3,514 indemnity)


For an alfalfa field to qualify in 2020 as a good stand, it needs to have a stand count greater than nine plants per square foot. If there is a claim and the stand count on the loss acres is between 6.6 to nine plants – it would be a 50% payment and 0–6.6 is 100% payment. A pure stand of alfalfa needs to contain at least 60% or more alfalfa, a mixed grass stand needs to contain at least 25% but less than 60% alfalfa. Red clover would be covered the same way.


After fields with losses are appraised, you will have the option to tear them up, inter-seed or leave them for harvest. A forage seeding policy is a yearly policy with a sales closing date of March 15. Stand counts to determine adequate acreage report is due by July 15, and the premium is billed August 15.


New for 2021

New for the 2021 crop year, that started July 1, a Fall Seeding policy will be available in many counties in Wisconsin and Michigan. Producers need to sign up for a policy before July 31 this year; acreage reporting is due by November 15, 2020, and premium is billed August 15, 2021. There are a number of counties that have been added in Michigan for both fall and spring seeding forage – check with your crop insurance specialist to determine if your farm is eligible for alfalfa forage coverage.


The new Fall Forage Seeding Policy is also a dollar plan policy that covers alfalfa fields planted July 1 to August 15. It works like the spring seeding forage policy – protects from winter kill for the next spring. If its winter kills before May 25 the next year and you replant, you will be paid at half the loss rate for timely planted fall seeded hay.


Both forage seeding policies are protected against the following: winter kill, adverse weather conditions such as hail, frost, freeze, wind, drought, and excess moisture, plant disease and insects and wildlife. You can plant a nurse crop with the new seeding, but the nurse crop needs to be at half the normal rate of seeding.


Forage Production policy insures your forage average production history (APH). The Forage Production policy goes by past production approved history and can be insured between 50%–85% coverage level of your APH. Or, you can take a CAT policy which has a 50% coverage at 55% of projected price.


Forage Production Policy

The Forage Production policy covers established alfalfa stands with adequate stand counts between one to five years-old and that have an adequate stand at the beginning of the insurance period. You can insure all your land in a county together as a basic unit (BU) or insure by sections, as an optional unit (OU). Sales closing date for a forage production policy is September 30, acreage reporting is due by November 15 and premium is billed July 1 the following year.


Production guarantee is based on your yield history. A loss is generated when your production falls below your production guarantee. If your policy is at 50% and you have a 5-ton APH, your guarantee is 2.5 tons. RMA sets the price of hay each year. In 2020 it was set at $122 a ton of hay. If hays average 1.5-ton per acre, you would be paid a loss of $122/acre.


Forage Production acres need an adequate stand count, at the end of the crop year to be rolled onto a Forage Production policy.


A Forage Production policy is available in most counties in Wisconsin and available in few counties in Michigan. It is anticipated that the RMA will add more counties in Michigan in the 2021 crop year.


Please check with your local crop insurance specialist and the RMA actuarial documents to see the dates, stand count guidelines, cost, availability and rules in your area.


Michigan forage seeding counties for 2021: Allegan, Alpena, Barry, Bay, Chippewa, Clare, Clinton, Delta, Hillsdale, Huron Ionia, Iosco, Isabella, Jackson, Kent, Lapeer, Mecosta, Menominee, Missaukee, Montcalm, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Osceola, Ottawa, Sanilac, Shiawassee and Washtenaw.


Northeast Wisconsin forage seeding counties for 2021: Brown, Calumet, Door, Florence, Forest, Kewaunee, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Sheboygan, and Waupaca.


This is an estimate and does not constitute a binding offer of insurance. Actual crop insurance premiums may differ based on final variables which include, but are not limited to; high risk acres, written agreements, supplemental rates, actual production history, options, acres planted, units, and Practice/Type/Variety. If the Farm Service Agency determines that the policyholder, or a substantial beneficial interest holder in the policyholder, is ineligible for premium subsidy as a result of any violation of 7 CFR Part 12 (Conservation Compliance), including, but not limited to, failing to file any required AD-1026 Form by the premium billing date, the policyholder may be required to pay the Total Premium rather than the Producer Premium.*

This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

*Some information obtained from RMA and Rain & Hail Insurance Company


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