“If you really want to get in the weeds or, in a lot of cases, in the dirt with crop insurance, you need to go out to the field.”
National Crop Insurance Services recently did just that, traveling to North Carolina to capture the real stories of both the farmers who rely on crop insurance and the people who provide coverage advice. That’s where we met Ruth Fulford, a crop risk advisor and care consultant with Flatlands Insurance Group.
Ruth, who was the recipient of the 2022 Crop Insurance Outstanding Service Award for outreach to limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers, is one of the many agents who write crop insurance policies in North Carolina. These policies protect crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, cabbage, sweet potatoes, sage, peanuts, produce and more. Collectively, crop insurance protects 3.5 million acres and more than $2.1 billion worth of crops in North Carolina.
Farmers across the state trust crop insurance to help them manage their risks. Farmers like Rena Eure, who owns a family farm with her husband and son. “What I love about farming is just being able to be out in nature and put a seed in the ground and watch it grow.”
The work of farming is the easy part, Rena told us. It’s the weather risks, financial stress, and supply chain challenges that make farming difficult. And there is a lot riding on the line.
“If we don’t have farmers, we don’t have food or the fiber you know, for the world basically,” Rena said.
Cattle rancher Gayle Smith pointed out that farmers do what they do because they love it. “We feel good about what we do because we provide a quality product for a world, and we willingly make those sacrifices.”
Even though she raises livestock, Gayle considers herself a grass farmer, first and foremost, with the cattle acting as large lawnmowers. But when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, and Gayle doesn’t have enough grass or hay to feed her cattle, that’s when she turns to crop insurance.
“It’s been a tremendous help. It is a very affordable tool that allows you to minimize or manage some risk and have a small return if it if the weather goes against you,” Gayle said.
This message was echoed by Charlotte Vick, who grows row crops alongside her parents on the farm they started with just 25 acres in 1975. “That’s really the main reason that we carry the crop insurance. To try to protect against the weather because you know, we’re at the mercy of Mother Nature.”
America’s farmers and ranchers are the foundation of our food supply and critical drivers to the farm economy. The Moore family understands this better than most. Michael is a third-generation family while Antoine is a branch loan officer at AgCarolina Farm Credit and farms with his father.
“Crop insurance helps me relieve the stress knowing that if something happened, disaster happened on the farm, I do have something to fall back on. That I won’t lose, completely, lose everything,” Michael said.
Antoine, on the other hand, pointed out that having a solid risk management plan is a critical consideration for lenders, giving them more certainty when approving farm loans. “Certainly, that makes a huge impact, not just on that farmer, but also on that rural community that relies on that farmer to produce a crop,” Antoine said.
Watch these stories and more at CropInsuranceInAmerica.org.