Friday is the deadline to purchase crop insurance for the 2019 season, but confusion and last minute changes have many growers unsure about their options. As part of the new Farm Bill, those who choose the SCO option can see a cut in their crop insurance premium. However, if you sign up for Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), you are automatically locked into the PLC option for the Government Safety Net program. But this week Martin Barbre, administrator of RMA, says even if you sign up for SCO you can change your acres from PLC to ARC later.
“If you choose to enroll in the SCO program by Friday and certify a certain number of acres in the PLC coverage, you can change the acreage number by the July 15 acreage certification deadline. Furthermore, this will not impact your final acreage mix when you sign up for the safety net program later this year or next.”
In other words, no matter what you decide about the number of acres you put into PLC vs ARC now, you will be able to totally change that decision down the road, perhaps as late as Spring of 2020. What is even better is that the lower policy rate you get by signing up for SCO now you get to keep, even if you get out of the program later this year.
Gary Schnitkey, with University of Illinois Extension, says SCO is a good option for producers who are “taking RP at an 85% coverage level, SCO can be used to lower premium costs.” This occurs when the RP coverage level is lowered and SCO is purchased to provide protection from 86% to the RP coverage level. He added that “individuals taking RP at a lower coverage level (say 75%); SCO can be used to provide protection from 86% to the coverage level of the RP policy. This addition can be valuable protection.” A video on the program can be found at
“We do not want to do anything that affects a producer’s decision on whether to elect ARC or PLC,” said Barbre. In a release by RMA on Wednesday it was stated that, “The existing penalties for misreporting eligible acreage on the SCO endorsement will not apply in 2019.”
Additional resources on the SCO program can be found at www.rma.usda.gov.
If you have questions, contact your crop insurance agent.