USDA’s Risk Management Agency taps Division of Agriculture for crop insurance analysis, stakeholder feedback
“Bottom line, we hope to help the crop insurance sector support more farmers and ranchers with more effective policies." — Ron Rainey
Aug. 11, 2022
By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- RMA Navigator aims to collect stakeholder feedback
- Bunger: “I think it’s time we do a better job of listening.”
(Newsrooms: with art https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA2vKt; ‘Roddric’ in 3rd graf is CQ)
LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture will be collecting stakeholder feedback and providing data analysis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency to help RMA improve its products and services to farmers.
Established in 1996, RMA manages the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to provide crop insurance products to America’s farmers and ranchers.
The RMA Navigator program is rooted in a $1.3 million grant proposal by Ron Rainey, assistant vice president for the Division of Agriculture. Rainey, who also serves as the director of the Southern Risk Management Education Center, said the project will provide a better understanding of federal crop insurance products and the performance of those risk management tools.
“Bottom line, we hope to help the crop insurance sector support more farmers and ranchers with more effective policies,” Rainey said.
Work on the program begins Sept. 1.
Vision for RMA
The program fits squarely in the vision outlined Wednesday by RMA Administrator Marcia Bunger during a visit with Division of Agriculture leaders at Little Rock. Among her objectives for the RMA are better service to underserved audiences, recruiting agents and loss adjusters locally, and helping specialty and organic crops.
She spoke about her years conducting outreach in South Dakota for the Farm Services Agency, another arm of USDA, reflecting on how best to serve stakeholders.
“How do we move that needle? I spent a lot of time in my years giving advice,” she said. “I think it’s time we do a better job of listening to hear what stakeholders believe would work the best.”
Another part of her vision “is to elevate some of the specialty crops, the organic crops, the crops we don’t currently have policies with and elevate them to the point that they are on the same playing field as the corn and bean, cotton and wheat guys,” she said.
At a Farm Bill field hearing held June 17 in Jonesboro, Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chair of the Senate ag committee and Arkansas’ John Boozman, ranking member, heard about the lack of affordable protection for specialty crops.
Being part of the community
To build trust within a community, “it’s important to have a crop insurance agent in your community. It’s important that they go to church with you. The kids go to the same schools that your kid is going to. They have a cultural understanding of the area,” she said.
“I think with that vision of having crop insurance agents from their communities and loss adjusters from their communities, will also help farmers and ranchers have an easier time going into their county offices as well,” she said.
Accompanying Bunger were Roddric Bell, RMA’s director of the southern region insurance office; Michael Heiserman, director of the risk management education division; and Richard Flournoy, deputy administrator for product management. Deacue Fields, vice president-agriculture for the University of Arkansas System, and Vic Ford, who heads up agriculture and natural resources for the Cooperative Extension Service, and Rainey represented Division of Agriculture administration.
“The Division of Agriculture is uniquely suited for this project because it is home for both the Fryar Price Risk Management Center of Excellence and host for the Southern Risk Management Education Center,” Fields said. “We have the in-house expertise to accomplish this mission with an aim to helping farmers in Arkansas and across the nation. I appreciate Dr. Rainey’s vision and leadership for this valuable program.”
RMA and the RMA Navigator are not affiliated with the Risk Management Association or its services.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
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Media contact: Mary Hightower, firstname.lastname@example.org