Archive for Sunday, August 5, 2007

$94 million in wheat claims paid

August 5, 2007

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— Kansas leads the nation in federal crop insurance payouts.

More than $94 million has been paid out so far to Kansas farmers whose wheat fields were damaged by a late spring freeze, heavy rains and flooding.

And officials said the payouts grow larger as crop adjusters continue to tour hard-hit fields.

"Kansas has paid more in indemnities than any other state under the crop insurance program," said Rebecca Davis, the state's regional director of the government's Risk Management Association.

Although western Kansas farmers are harvesting bumper crops, many farmers elsewhere are reporting below-normal yields. Some, including Harper County farmer Jim Mathes, are abandoning their fields entirely.

He said the 16 inches of rain that fell during harvest caused the ultimate demise of his crops. He abandoned about 1,000 acres.

"One for the records books, you might say," he said of this year's crop. "I don't know anyone that has seen anything like this."

Last month, the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service revised its Kansas wheat production forecast downward to 300.8 million bushels from 9.4 million harvested acres.

Davis said indemnity payments were bigger in 2006, with $177.9 million paid out to producers as drought conditions stunted crops. But commodity prices are higher this year, meaning higher payments per acre.

Sumner County, typically the state's biggest wheat producer, was the hardest hit this year, she said. As of July 31, indemnity payments totaled $7.8 million.

Harper County, where farmers left nearly 41,000 acres uncut, ranked second with $6.2 million in payments. McPherson County, where farmers left more than 16,000 acres uncut, came in third with $6.1 million in payments.

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