Working closely with leading industry associations, Hortica successfully orchestrated an excellent outcome to a serious situation faced by nursery crop insurance customers nationwide.
In early December, Hortica received word that the Risk Management Agency (RMA), the agency within the United States Department of Agriculture responsible for administering our nation’s federal crop insurance program, would be requiring participating nurseries to submit voluminous records to support the inventory values they reported. Not only was the requested information extremely detailed in nature, the deadline to comply was very short – thirty days. In addition, the penalties for non-compliance were severe: Nurseries not providing the requested data within thirty days (the upcoming holiday season notwithstanding) would have had their coverage voided and they would have been placed on a list of nurseries ineligible to apply for this important protection in the future.
Hortica responded immediately. Supported by the Society of American Florists (SAF) and the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA), meetings were arranged with RMA representatives who were both reasonable and helpful. These meetings proved to be very productive leading quickly to a reduction of scope of the data being demanded along with an extension of the filing deadline from “within thirty days” to a new deadline of February 29, 2008. This gave the industry some needed breathing room during a busy holiday season.
Ultimately, the RMA agreed with Hortica and advised that except for customers who experience a claim the demand for detailed data to support reported inventories for Crop Year 2008 would be rescinded.
Hortica showed again the benefit of a mutual company dedicated to serving the unique insurance needs of the horticultural industry. Lin Schmale, SAF’s Senior Director of Government Relations put it this way:
“Hortica really did a great job of lobbying on this one – Pete Fornof, John Hodapp and Bob McClellan just did an excellent job of presenting their very reasonable case to USDA. USDA will require, next year, that growers provide inventory when they purchase their policy, which is a much more sensible way of doing things. As usual, we are lucky to have Hortica!!”