Hoeven Calls on USDA to Ensure Timely Implementation of Supplemental Coverage Option for All Eligible Producers

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today called on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to implement the 2014 farm bill’s new Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) in a timely fashion for all eligible producers. In a letter to Vilsack, Hoeven raised concerns about USDA’s current timeline in which SCO will only be available for certain counties and crops during the 2015 crop year.

SCO is an enhanced crop insurance program that enables agricultural producers to purchase a supplemental insurance policy beyond their individual farm-based policy. As a member of the farm bill conference committee as well as the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Hoeven played a key role in the passage of the 2014 farm bill, which included the authorization of SCO and required that the program be available by the 2015 crop year.

“We worked hard to pass a strong farm bill that provides our farmers and ranchers with good options for managing risk,” said Hoeven. “I am asking Secretary Vilsack to use his authority to ensure that SCO is available to all of our eligible producers on time so they have the certainty they need to plan for the coming crop years.”

The text of the letter follows.

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
US Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20010

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

As you are well aware, the Agriculture Act of 2014, the Farm Bill, is not only important for our farmers and ranchers, but it is of critical importance to every American who benefits from the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world. Through committee, floor, and conference consideration, we strove to produce a bill that provides producers with strong risk management options by strengthening crop insurance. I am particularly concerned with your department’s implementation of the new Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO).

SCO was designed to enable producers to purchase a supplemental crop insurance policy beyond their individual farm-based policy. Based on existing timelines provided by your department, I am concerned that tools meant by Congress to be available to farmers beginning with the 2015 crop year might not be ready in time. This is of concern as the Farm Bill specifically requires that SCO be made available for the 2015 crop year.

In addition, I am concerned that SCO is made available to all insurable crops produced in all counties no later than the 2016 crop year. If necessary, the department should use its contracting authority to get the job done in a timely fashion. Agriculture supports more than 16 million jobs across this country, and our producers need this enhanced crop insurance risk management option to be made available as quickly as possible.

I appreciate the enormity of the job you have to do in implementing the Farm Bill, and I want to work together to get ahead of potential problems or delays before they occur. Thank you for your consideration. Please let me know if you need additional information or resources in order to implement SCO in a manner consistent with Congressional intent.



John Hoeven
U.S. Senator