Farmers Not To Receive Hail Program Refunds in 2014 - News, Sports and Weather

Farmers Not To Receive Hail Program Refunds in 2014

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2013 was a bad year for hail damage to crop farmers and it caused great damage to the agricultural industry in Montana. ABC Montana's Joe Moeller brings us a report on the changes that the Montana Hail Program has for 2014.

Mostly everyone in Montana has experienced a hail storm, especially farmers who dred them. Hail damages crops so badly, it potentially ruin business.

"Leafy greens get hit really hard, the kale, the broccoli, they get hit really hard, devastated." said Mike Jopek a farmer from Whitefish, Montana "The wheat is pretty much bent over and aren't harvestable."

When farmers reach a certain amount of ruin they turn to Montana's hail insurance program to hopefully help with the losses to their crops and income.

"For crops that were hailed out every year in Montana, and Montana has a unique program most states don't have a stale hail program." said Kim Falcon from the Department of Agriculture.

After a big year with hail damage to crops, Montana's hail insurance program paid out record amounts in 2013. This year the Hail Board voted to not offer refunds to farmers.

"Usually they do refunds because they have less damages than policies that were paid and this year we had a lot more damage and so we had to pay out in addition to the premiums that were collected." added Falcon.

2,082 policies last year were issued by the Montana Department of Agriculture Hail Board which covered 1,046 losses totaling $14 million. Over the 98 years in operation this was by far the worst loss to the program.

"The hail board is considering a couple of different options, one is to look at reinsurance to be covered for any loses we have above and beyond the premiums that were collected, and there are a couple of other options to in making sure that we can cover any loses that can occur." said Falcon.

The program, with existing reserves can cover 122% of claims next year, in examining reinsurance the board has to consider similar weather events that cold be a catastrophe to farmers.

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