Crop Insurance: A Shield of Protection for Farmers

Farmer Rob Robbins discusses risk management

Time to start planning your 2020 crop protection strategy. Make an appointment with a Crop Insurance Agent before the March 16th deadline to obtain insurance for corn, soybean, and other spring planted crops.

Combining crops, dairy and agri-tourism into a vibrant and successful family-run farm operation requires an open mindset toward new methods, technologies and opportunities, and the same kind of business acumen that you are likely to find in a meeting room of corporate executives.

Ron and Nancy Robbins’ farm is located in Jefferson County, New York, situated between the Adirondack foothills and the St. Lawrence River valley, near the eastern shore of Lake Ontario.  Starting with 100 rented acres in 1977, their farm has grown to over four thousand acres of vegetables and field crops, a 1000 head dairy, a grain storage and processing facility for both feed and food-grade grains, and an agricultural tour and education enterprise.

Crop Insurance is a no brainer for Ron, he uses it to protect against adverse weather, which gives him the confidence to forward contract, pricing his harvest ahead of time, and gives him credibility with his lender.

Ron feels every business should have a mission statement: “Our mission statement for our farm is to be growth minded and be able to take advantage of new technologies, and any new opportunity that comes along to us”.  As the farm has grown, the Robbins’s became aware of the added risks a larger farm is exposed to:  management and labor shortage, debt to asset ratios, more animals to feed, etc. To help manage these risks Ron has put together a “Toolbox” of Risk Management Tools. “We’ve really embraced risk management in all aspects here, and I think it’s gotten us from being average farmers, to being above average, [in terms of] production, and financially,” said Ron Robbins, in an interview last September.

Diversifying their business is the first Risk Management tool the Robbins used. Their multiple income streams help prevent being too reliant on any one business having a bad year.  They also have adopted a range of business and risk management tools to optimize fluctuating dairy margins, maximize profit, manage risk, and ensure smooth operation and growth of the farm despite potential obstacles and challenges that could come their way.  “We’ve tried to build a strong management team here in case I became ill or my wife became ill, or something happened to us and we weren’t here anymore, that the farm would still be able to continue on.”

In addition to a collaborative management team, learning and applying crop insurance and pricing tools, Robbins has used the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy as well as the new Dairy Revenue Protection. He describes how these dairy risk management tools have worked on his farm in the video linked below.

Cornell University delivers crop insurance education in New York State in partnership with the USDA, Risk Management Agency. This material is funded in partnership by USDA, Risk Management Agency, under award number RM18RMETS524C018


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