FOCUS ON AGRICULTURE: MU online tool helps with pasture insurance decision

Posted: Jul. 17, 2014 8:11 am Updated: Aug. 14, 2014 11:15 am

Is pasture insurance right for your farm? The answer could be yes, no or maybe.

University of Missouri Extension has launched an online tool that can help farmers decide if buying pasture, range and forage (PRF) insurance makes sense for their operation.

MU Extension agricultural economist Ray Massey said that unlike most crop insurance, PRF is based on rainfall rather than yield.

"It is hard to understand what the yield is on pasture," Massey said. "You put cows out there, and you take cows off. You don't normally take off grass unless you're haying it."

MU's online tool provides the same daily estimates from the National Weather Service that the USDA Risk Management Agency uses to determine accumulated rainfall over a two-month period. But it also lets producers break down rainfall by day and amount, while RMA only presents a monthly percentage index. Massey said daily information will help farmers see the correlation between what the RMA is paying insurance on and what is happening on their farm.

"We're hoping farmers will keep track throughout the growing season and come to understand how the insurance works," Massey said. "So on Nov. 15, 2014, when farmers can sign up for 2015 insurance, they will be able to make a decision on whether or not to purchase PRF."

To access the PRF module, sign up at You will need to provide an email address, street address and the latitude and longitude of your farm.

Complete instructions and more information are available online at

Buy Illinois

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is challenging residents to devote a small portion of their food budget to Illinois-made products.

If every Illinois household dedicated just $10 of its existing, weekly grocery budget toward the purchase of Illinois food products, the department concludes more than $2.4 billion a year would be reinvested in the state's economy, helping to revitalize both rural and urban communities.

"We aren't asking consumers to dedicate new money towards this initiative," Gov. Pat Quinn said. "We are simply encouraging them to shift their purchases to buy Illinois-made products."

Accepting the challenge is simple and would support thousands of jobs in the farming and food industries. Residents just need to go online to and take the "Buy Illinois Pledge."

The department has been working with individual food companies and grocery stores to brand Illinois-made items with an Illinois Product logo so that consumers can easily find them on grocery store shelves. Any entity that produces, processes, packages, manufactures or promotes a food or agribusiness product in the state is eligible to participate in the program free of charge.

"Consumers don't always have time to check product labels," Agriculture Director Bob Flider said. "Use of this trademarked logo not only will simplify identification of Illinois foods for the consumer, but also increase the visibility of participating companies in the marketplace."

-- Compiled by Herald-Whig Staff Writer Deborah Gertz Husar.