Here are some questions and thoughts that were stimulated by your e-mail
soliciting input on how to determine crop insurance for organically grown
1) How do you know that organic yields are lower (as you state in the
message below)? Is this statement based on current data on all organic
crops, or is it a generallized assumption/mythology? Some yields of some
organically grown crops may be lower than the same crops grown
conventionally, but it is my understanding that this less the case than in
How about it, fellow sanet-mg folks? Do you, especially those who are
producers (not just consumers, researcher/extensionists, and interested
digesters like myself), find that this is a generalizable fact? Or has it
become a myth? What is the current state of affairs in terms of yield
comparisons between organic and conventional methods? Are there now
reliable organic practices by which farmers are regularly attaining or
surpassing expected conventional yields onece past the transition stage?
Anyone have any current research data/references to address this issue?
2) It seems to me that one difference in crop insurance for organic growers
vs conventional, is that they need protection from crop loss due to drift
of conventional growers' non-organic pesticides contaminating their organic
fields. Of course, in my opinion, the cost for this kind of insurance ought
to be borne by the applicators, not the organic farmers, either directly as
a pesticide application insurance, or as a fee imbedded in the cost of the
I work with mainly resource-poor farmers in a developing country who are,
for the most part, moving from passive organic (no chemicals, but not
necessarily using intensively managed organic inputs and techniques) to
active organic farming in order to increase productivity. Crop insurance is
unheard of in their circle! However, I would like to be more informed as to
how organic performance is doing in the US and European situation as
compared to conventional.
>Can someone send me this, I just joined and this topic is of interest to me.
>Also, we are trying to understand how we can provide crop insurance to
>organic farmers. Right now our actuarial systems (the prices and yields
>we offer for coverage) are set up based on conventional farming systems,
>example, we insure rice --but if someone wants organic rice insurance then
>we may have a problem or barrier providing coverage because we do not
>understand the difference-from a risk standpoint. We know that organic
>yields are lower, but the price the grower receives is much higher than
>what we offer for the conventionallly grown crop.
>Any thoughts on practices, number of years records organic producers may
>have available, etc.
>Also if someone is going from conventional to organic (in transition) and
>they have 3 years of records from conventional practices, and one from
>organic, we don't feel we can give that farmer the average of the four
>years. We are looking for a system to recognize the differences in the
>organic vs. conventional farming practices.
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Sheryl N. Swink
Cornell International Institute for
Food, Agriculture and Development
Box 14 Kennedy Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
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