Insuring against crop losses due to recalls: Are you covered?

Crop insurance for fresh produce is often taken for granted until it is sorely needed. Growers are urged to look into their fresh produce crop insurance coverage to ensure adequate coverage.

Most fresh produce growers treat crop insurance like an umbrella. They don’t give much thought to the size and functionality until it is needed. Every so often it’s important to check to see if your crop insurance umbrella will actually work in a food safety crisis. One such area of crop insurance where you might have a lack of coverage is in the area of food adulteration. A recent episode at a Michigan produce farm pointed out the need to sit down with an insurance provider and plan for situations where you may have to destroy a crop due to potential food safety risks.

Fresh produce growers who practice good food safety on their farms are well aware of what practices can increase risk of foodborne illness. In instances where there is a known breach of food safety of a significant magnitude to warrant it, the most responsible thing to do is destroy the crop and not let it enter the food supply. These are instances that could include a major flood event midseason, significant numbers of livestock loose in a field, or misapplication of crop protectants. In these instances, the produce is essentially unsalable and the contaminating event may not have been the produce grower’s fault. In most cases, crop insurance and standard liability coverage may only cover a small fraction of the loss due to food adulteration. This is irrespective of the size of the liability coverage.

If no such plan exists in your crop insurance options, then look for coverage of this type under your property and casualty policy. It is imperative that produce growers take a moment with their insurance providers to ensure they are adequately covered for crop loss in the event of food adulteration. The losses due to an unforeseen mishap can be catastrophic.

If you have difficulty with food safety issues, contact the Michigan State University Extension Agrifood Safety Work Group at or 517-788-4292. 

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