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USDA agency’s largesse grows crop insurance
But DeLaine Bender, the executive director of the Christmas tree growers lobby, said the group didn’t provide training on crop insurance, instead using the money to bring professional speakers to its annual trade show in Sacramento, Calif., to do education and training at “breakout sessions” on risk management. About 300 to 400 growers attended, she said.
“Most of them are very interested in risk management,” she said, adding that the training materials reached thousands more recipients after the trade show ended, through emails and the group’s publications.
The RMA was listed as a “sponsor” for the trade show as a result of its grant, though Bender said federal monies were limited to underwriting the training sessions and not the “fun and educational theme night event at the California State Railroad Museum” listed on the trade-show agenda.
“We truly focus on risk management and helping the industry learn on how it can avoid risk,” she said. “To my knowledge, we have not promoted the insurance program.”
• The Prune Bargaining Association scored $99,429 this year to “provide crop-insurance education and to educate specialty crop producers on effectively negotiating marketing contracts” and “managing market risk.”
• The San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association won $36,000 to help grape growers for California’s wine industry learn how to apply for federal crop insurance and deal with “production management, crop marketing and financial risk.”
• The Minnesota Fruit & Vegetable Association got $96,567 to “provide crop-insurance education and to develop and deliver a variety of risk-management solutions for specialty crop producers in the Upper Midwest, including women, beginning growers, limited resource, Latino and Hmong producers.”
Several of the grant recipients were targeted at immigrant or underprivileged farmers through nonprofits such as Legal Aid or the Catholic Charities arm in Kansas, which won a $37,870 grant to provide crop-insurance education and “ensure that refugee specialty crop growers in the Midwest are equipped to use risk-management tools to build successful farm businesses.”
Several consulting firms, which have cropped up around the niche crop insurance business or organic farming also won grants.
Likewise, educators scored big, as more than two dozen universities, colleges and technical schools won grants, ranging from Rutgers in New Jersey to the University of Hawaii.
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