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Selling guaranteed insurance bushels

STEVE JOHNSON 07/06/2012 @ 2:55pm Farm Management Specialist with ISU Extension housed in Polk County, Iowa. Areas of expertise include crop marketing, grain contracts, government farm programs, crop insurance, farmland leasing and other crop risk management strategies. Reach Steve by e-mail at sdjohns@iastate.edu.

Most farms utilize a crop insurance product that provides a revenue guarantee on a percentage of their actual production history (APH). The most common product used by Iowa farmers is likely Revenue Protection (RP).

Using policies such as Revenue Protection (RP) or Revenue Protection with the Harvest Price Exclusion (RPE) guarantee both yield and price using farm level APHs. However, RPE does not offer a higher harvest guarantee should the harvest price (futures price average in October) be higher than the projected price (futures price average in February).

The Yield Protection (YP) is also a farm-level product, but does not trigger an indemnity unless a yield loss first occurs. The indemnity for both RPE and YP are limited to the projected price only, no adjustment should the harvest price be higher than the projected price.

Pre-harvest marketing strategies

The 2012 projected price is $5.68 per bushel for corn and $12.55 per bushel for soybeans, respectively. Use of RP or RPE guarantees the farm’s APH times the level of coverage. These are often referred to as the guaranteed bushels or the farm’s insurance bushels.

Let’s use an example to understand how the Revenue Projection (RP) product works. Say your farm’s average APH is 170 bu/acre and you elect the 75 percent level of coverage; your guaranteed bushels are 128 bu/acre. To calculate the revenue guarantee you simply multiply the guarantee bushels (128 bu./acre) times the projected price of $5.68/bu. to get $727/acre.

Using RP in 2012 should provide a comfort level in selling bushels for delivery on a portion of your guaranteed bushels. Should a natural peril like drought occur, any shortfall in bushels below the 128 bu./acre should trigger an indemnity payment calculated at the $5.68/bu. projected price.

Shortfall in harvest yield

Now the proverbial question: “What if I don’t raise those bushels that I’ve committed to delivery?” Use the example above and understand that the harvest yield estimated was only 100 bu/acre, but your guaranteed bushels were 128 bu/acre. Your indemnity will simply reflect those missing 28 bu/acre times $5.68/bu. or $159/acre. If you’d committed all 128 bu/acre to delivery, you’ll still need to work with your grain merchandiser to “buy back” those extra bushels as soon as you collect your crop insurance indemnity payment.

Most times there will simply be a charge of 10 to 20 cents per bushel since other merchandiser bushels can be substituted for your shortfall. Since you’ll be collecting an indemnity payment following harvest reflecting $5.68/bu., the impact of “buy back” bushels is negated. Should the harvest price (futures price average in October) be less than the futures price that you contracted bushels for delivery, the “buy back” will be even less and reward your pre-harvest marketing strategy.

Note this indemnity reflects a futures price average, which is to your advantage. That’s because the futures prices in most Corn Belt locations tend to be higher than the cash price used for “buy back” bushels. This is especially true at harvest when basis (cash minus futures) tends to be the widest.

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