Crop Insurance — Apples: Video Transcript

My name is Marilyn Meyerhans, my husband Steven and I run and own the Apple Farm in Fairfield Maine and Lakeside Orchard in Manchester. We’ve had the Apple Farm for 42 years and Lakeside for I think we’re on our 15th or 16th year here. Mostly apples we have about 100 acres between the two farms of apples. A couple of acres of pears and plums, maybe 5 acres of gardens, 3 hoop houses, a cider press, we try to be as vertically integrated in the growing situation as possible, so we grow it, pack it press it, market it, we market it to our local stand we have a stand at each farm, farmers market in Waterville, North Center Food Service, ten Hannaford stores, Crown of Maine Organic Cooperative, and Martha Putnam at Farm Fresh Connection and some other smaller stores and markets.

Farming Risks

Well, the risks obviously are the weather, insects, and diseases. We’ve had have hail storms, so that’s one big risk. Freezes at the wrong time of year is a huge issue because if the blossoms are out it can kill it, we could lose everything with a few degrees below 28 degrees. Winters generally speaking are ok it used to be that if it got to 35 below it would start killing the trees but we haven’t seen that in years. In terms of apples set, sometimes the apples just don’t set could be rainy during the whole blossom, bees don’t work in the rain. No set no apples. So that’s the weather issues. Marketing, of course, is always an issue, we’ve got to have markets, we’ve got to have apples that the markets want so that’s an issue.

Managing Risks

We have 12 acres of organic orchards, certified organic so we use organic materials to modify or take care of some of those risks like the bugs and the diseases and in the rest of the orchard we use and IPM system, Integrated Pest Management and we buy crop insurance that’s the best we can do.

On Crop Insurance

We started off years ago with none and if there was a disaster then we might get a disaster payment from the government, those are not in existence. I think we did that once or twice maybe 30 years ago and we buy up, we don’t get the basic level, we buy-up a little bit, not to the highest level. It’s very expensive but we do buy-up.

We have to submit our harvest records and we do that according to block, block by block, and what we pick in an average year and I think they take a 5-year average.

And they determine what our production is and if there is an indemnity it’s based on that. And they also have a crop adjustment guy who comes out and goes through the orchard if we make a claim and he does a count so that he can get a second verification, an independent verification of what we have for production and um so if there is a claim, they’ve got that also to go by. After the harvest is over, we pay the premium which is subsidized.

2015 Hail Loss

Last year, we had 100% crop loss, hail storm. We called our agent yeah the next day or the same day. The adjuster came out and did an assessment to verify the loss. They are pretty prompt with payments. The resulting indemnity was a lifesaver for us it made a big difference. Even though I think in those 10 years we’ve had 2 claims, so 8 years no claims, but still worth doing.

The Takeaway

Know what you’ve got invested first. If you don’t have much invested then you’re not going to loose that much but if you have everything invested in it like if you’ve got an outside job and this is just a sideline you’re probably not going to go broke.

If you can go into your next year not digging the whole deeper, that’s farming. For so many years we were borrowed line of credit every year, line of credit every year and spent the rest of the year paying it off and we finally got to the point where we don’t do a line of credit but then if we lose a crop we will go back to that place where we’re just living off that line of credit. So you never get ahead. And what crop insurance has done has kept us from falling into that hole again.