Kentucky official: No regular hemp crop insurance in 2020 |

Kentucky official: No regular hemp crop insurance in 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is trying to convince Congress to include a provision in the supplemental disaster aid bill that would force the Agriculture Department to develop crop insurance for hemp in 2020, but a Kentucky state official said Wednesday that USDA would not be able to develop a regular crop insurance policy for the 2020 crop year.

At a briefing on hemp sponsored by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Keith Rogers, chief of staff in the Kentucky Agriculture Department, said he has had many conversations with McConnell about the crop insurance issue.

Crop insurance is a “tremendous issue” for hemp growers, Rogers said, but it would be “impossible” for the Agriculture Department’s Risk Management Agency and crop insurance companies to come up with policies by 2020.

Fred Strathmeyer, deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Agriculture Department, said it will take three or four years for “full-blown insurance.”

Ben Thomas, director of the Montana Agriculture Department, noted that one problem in developing crop insurance is that the crop, which was illegal to grow until the 2018 farm bill declared hemp is not a drug, has no production history on which to base insurance risk. But Thomas noted that federal agencies generally do what Congress tells them to do and that RMA would probably develop some kind of policy “whether it’s actuarially sound or not.”

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