Is it feasible for chicken and turkey flocks to be covered under a federal crop insurance plan? A forthcoming study called for in the 2014 farm bill may answer that question.
The farm bill, which was signed into law on February 7, includes an amendment that calls for a study of whether a federal program should be launched that would insure poultry producers for flock losses in the case of a disaster, whether it would be a disease outbreak, weather-related disaster or a financial disaster, such as a poultry processor bankruptcy.
Insurance for poultry flocks would have helped growers for Allen Family Foods when the company went bankrupt in 2011, Coons said during a news conference on February 18.
"Many other segments of agriculture benefit from crop insurance," Coons said. "Poultry's something where there is no such product available. There's no federal role in providing for that ... We're trying to encourage young folks to get into this segment. We want to help them manage risk in a responsible way."
The amendment doesn't include any estimate of what a poultry crop insurance program might cost, according to reports. The federal crop insurance program for corn, wheat and other seed crops cost $5.9 billion in federal funds in the most recent fiscal year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, or 3.8 percent of the USDA's annual budget.
National Chicken Council President Mike Brown, who also participated in the press conference, said he supports the study, saying an insurance program could help growers "when their flocks are disrupted."