I am sad to hear that tomato blight continues to destroy crops on the East End of Long Island. After sweet corn, tomatoes are my favorite local summertime crop. The blight got some local press coverage earlier in the month, and seems to be a problem which recurs annually out here. There is some research which suggests this might be a persistent problem for Long Island farmers in the years ahead. Now might be a good time for the local farming community to think about crop insurance for next years tomatoes.

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency regulates rates and policies for a wide array of crops through the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. Farmers purchase coverage through insurance agents working on behalf of privately operated but highly regulated companies.

According to the RMA website, only processing tomatoes are a covered crop in New York.  These are not the kind of tomatoes which small-scale East End farmers make their money on. The red and yellow beauties you buy at the farm stand, the ones with the high value for the farmer, are considered fresh market tomatoes and are not covered in New York.

There is however, a procedure for getting coverage for fresh market tomato even though it is not a standard risk management product available to the East End farmer. Farmers can request insurance for a crop not covered in their county by special request to RMA made via a crop insurance agent.

Many of the farms on the East End which produce the best tomatoes are very small, so purchasing insurance on limited acreage might not be economical. Wouldn’t hurt to find an agent and ask a few questions, though.