The U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency (RMA) said it will offer an organic price election for four crops during the 2011 production year. In conjunction with that decision, RMA released three reports that provide the framework for improvements to crop insurance programs that are available to producers of certified organic crops.

"USDA is working to provide producers of organic crops with improved opportunities and resources," said agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. We are taking aggressive action to improve delivery of our programs, with impressive results for our customers. The release of these reports and RMA's announcement of the price election mark another step in that continuing effort."

RMA is preparing to issue organic price elections for the 2011 crop year for cotton, corn and soybeans, as well as processing tomatoes.

The reports issued by RMA compile research into data that support a price election for organic crops. They also provide a comparative analysis of loss experience for organic crops and conventional crops produced in the same counties during the same crop years. The reports were prepared under the provisions of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (farm bill). In preparing the reports, RMA contracted for research to develop a pricing methodology using available data. RMA will continue to evaluate data available upon which to develop organic price elections for other insured crops.

RMA is also eliminating a current 5 percent surcharge for organic crops insured under 10 crop insurance programs. Affected programs are Figs; Florida Citrus Fruit; Florida Fruit Tree (Pilot); Macadamia Tree; Nursery; Pears; Peppers; Prunes; Texas Citrus Tree; Texas Citrus Fruit. The agency will continue to accumulate data that will allow for more precise rating of other organic crops.