US crop insurance payouts near $11 billion for 2011

Corn, cotton, wheat top crops damaged

Losses paid out by crop insurance companies to U.S. farmers for 2011 crops have exceeded $10.7 billion and are still climbing, according to data from the Risk Management Agency, surpassing the previous record of $8.76 billion set in 2008 by almost 25 percent.

The top crops damaged, by dollar value, were corn, cotton, wheat, soybeans grain sorghum, pastureland and rangeland, and tobacco. The average loss ratio across the country is .90 — for every dollar purchased in coverage, 90 cents was paid out in indemnities — but some states are seeing much higher numbers. Vermont, which was hit by Hurricane Irene, is at 2.59. Texas and Oklahoma, which have been hit by extended drought, are at 2.35 and 2.15, respectively.

“With damages from [2011] approaching the $11 billion mark, the fact that there has not been a single call from farmers and ranchers for a federal disaster bill is testimony to the efficacy of crop insurance and proof that farmers and rancher consider it indispensible,” said Tom Zacharias, president of National Crop Insurance Services.