The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently invested about $3.3 million in two new partnerships that will train and equip the next generation of crop insurance agents, adjusters, and outreach educators about crop insurance options.
According to the USDA, these partnerships with the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) and the University of Arkansas’ Southern Risk Management Education Center further efforts by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) to broaden participation in crop insurance, especially among underserved producers.
“Crop insurance strengthens American agriculture, and we want to make sure all farmers, especially those traditionally left behind, are aware of the tools available to manage risk,” said RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger. “We have a lot of work to do to engage underserved producers in our risk management tools. These two partnerships will let us engage with communities that have historically lacked access to resources and education. Both partnerships aim to cultivate creativity and innovation as they work to empower, educate and provide outreach to underserved producers.”
The Intertribal Agricultural Council (IAC), about $1.9 million: RMA and the IAC will strategically engage with minority-serving institutions and underserved stakeholder groups that will train, credential, and establish a pipeline of crop insurance agents and adjusters within underserved agricultural communities. The initiative’s goal is to increase the representation of underserved insurance agents and loss adjusters providing service to underserved communities.
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Kari Jo Lawrence, Executive Director of the IAC, said: “I commend USDA’s Risk Management Agency for investing in this project and understanding that designing and implementing programs that engage community members directly increases impact and reduces inefficiencies. Joining forces with our partners—Rural Coalition, Annie’s Project, and Alcorn State University—enhances delivery efforts in all sectors of historically underserved communities. It also ensures a lasting effect across the crop insurance sector to deliver available risk management options.”
The Southern Risk Management Education Center at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, about $1.4 million: This partnership will strengthen outreach and technical assistance to underserved farmers and ranchers through the development of risk management program navigators. These navigators will be program specialists trained by project collaborators to provide strategic outreach and engage underserved agricultural populations about federal crop insurance.
Ronald Rainey, Professor and Assistant Vice-President at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said: “The University of Arkansas’ Southern Risk Management Education Center is excited to leverage its risk management expertise and grass-roots relationships developed across the region to enhance understanding of RMA products and services. A collection of aligned project activities will intentionally seek to enhance engagement with communities and farmers who have been historically underserved by federal crop insurance.”
These partners were chosen because they have a proven track record of success working with RMA and have the infrastructure needed to be successful in strengthening the education and outreach on increasing the adoption of risk management tools in underserved agricultural communities.
The University of Arkansas has the expertise and vast knowledge of working with underserved producers in the Southeastern region. IAC has a track record of success working with Native Americans, and they will partner with three other entities with knowledge and experience working with underserved communities.
In addition to the $3.3 million investment noted above for the two new partnerships, RMA has invested $3.19 million since 2021 in partnerships involving 25 projects with dozens of awardees (and sub-awardees) to expand outreach and education on crop insurance through the USDA’s Risk Management Education Partnership Program, authorized under Section 522(d) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act.
Additionally, RMA has launched a new “Roadshow” to provide information on two key insurance options for underserved, specialty crops, organic and small-scale producers – Whole-Farm Revenue Protection and Micro Farm. For additional information about RMA’s outreach and education efforts and the Roadshow, visit RMA’s Outreach and Education webpage.