In late August 2020, a storm howling with hurricane-force winds swept through the Midwest, damaging nearly 40 million acres of farmland.
Illinois farmers watched helplessly as 6.95 million acres of corn endured wind speeds above 100 miles per hour.
Unpredictable weather patterns are becoming more frequent, and the agriculture industry is facing more instability as a result.
For hemp farmers in the Midwest, the only guarantee against crop loss is insurance.
It’s not just storms growers have to prepare for; it’s all varieties of weather.
If yields are lower than expected or a heatwave stunted growth, there’s insurance for that. What if the cannabinoid levels aren’t within the desired thresholds?
That’s something crop insurance can cover as well.
Illinois hemp farmers, more than many other regions, are dealing with large-scale production.
They’re working with bigger yields and, as such, greater risks.
John Read, the founder of Hempsurance, is a fourth-generation Illinois farmer who understands the state’s unique advantages.
“We see large production agriculture being the leader in making hemp a mainstay crop in the U.S. When you farm in the Midwest, as opposed to other areas of the country, we’ve got large equipment and we understand how to farm at scale. We have rich soils which drive large yields quickly over a large scale of acres.”
This economy of scale makes the need for insurance even more pronounced, as a loss of even a small portion of one’s harvest could have huge financial implications.
Read says the biggest hurdle for farmers is understanding what they need to protect.
“We help the grower understand what his true costs are so we can make sure he’s insured to break even or ultimately even insure some type of profit on an annual basis.”
Read’s Hempguard program can insure up to $15,000 an acre, a unique advantage of being the nation’s first private outdoor hemp crop insurance program.
Losses endured by the farmer impact more than one person’s livelihood.
Each year, agriculture contributes $17 million to the state’s economy. Everyone benefits when farmers are protected.
These days, it seems like there’s a lot to insure against. Insects are always a threat. Disease can rear its ugly head at any time.
Plus, with hemps’s relatively recent arrival to the domestic agriculture scene, there’s still a lot to learn about how it performs and which threats are most pressing.
“As this is a new crop, we simply do not know what is and is not working in the Midwest,” said Philip Alberti, an Illinois Extension commercial agriculture educator. Hempsurance also protects against mold, leaf spot, and other quality concerns.
The most important aspect of finding an insurance agency is making sure the company understands the farmer’s needs.
“Our company is completely hemp-focused. We understand the market from the grower side all the way through the distribution channels to help ensure farmers are properly protected,” said Read. ϖ