Apple growers ripe for change in fed insurance law

November 10, 2011 Updated Nov 10, 2011 at 8:31 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by Tracey Drury, Buffalo Business First Reporter

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November 10, 2011 Updated Nov 10, 2011 at 8:31 AM EDT

New York apple growers are hailing a change in federal law that could ease insurance regulations for producers.

The change by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency (RMA) is expected to help apple producers cut costs and boost efficiency in the record-keeping of their production and distribution, allow them to receive the best possible crop insurance, and end discrimination against smaller apple producers.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand pushed the changes at the federal level, which allow Approved Insurance Providers to consider records of total production rather than production by unit from the 2007 through 2010 crop years.

Peter Gregg, a spokesman for the New York Apple Association, said the rule change helps streamline the program. Lessening the paperwork and record-keeping requirements will allow growers to focus energies more on growing quality apples, he says.

"This is very good news for the apple growers in New York who are eager to participate in the crop insurance program," he says. "Crop insurance this past decade has become more and more necessary with more and more weather disasters. Any effort to improve this program is great news to our industry."

New York produces approximately 1.25 billion pounds of apples annually, generating nearly $236 million in revenue for the state.

Gillibrand's office said apple growers were hampered by reporting requirements that forced them to keep records of their fresh apple crop in sales by unit terms from the point of production through distribution and to later sales. This meant that once apples were delivered to a warehouse, the farmer was responsible for tracking all apples by unit, an inefficient process. Most apple producers were not eligible for fresh apple crop insurance because they did not meet the necessary standards of record keeping.

"New York state is home to the world's best apples and the hardest working producers," Gillibrand said. "They shouldn't be held back by red tape and bureaucracy."

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