Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Producer meetings on new weaned calf protection program

HURON, S.D. – South Dakota cow/calf producers are among the first in the nation to be able to insure against the risk of losing young calves. It’s a level of protection they’ve have never had available to them before.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is rolling out the Weaned Calf Risk Protection program. South Dakota is one of four states involved in the pilot program. Other states include Nebraska, Colorado and Texas.

South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB) will be hosting two informational meetings to highlight Weaned Calf Risk Protection insurance options.

Weaned Calf Risk Protection is a new insurance option for livestock producers in four states offered by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). Lowell Mesman of SDFB says it covers a lot of the risks inherent to cow/calf production.

“I think it’s where they’re going with this,” he observed.  “We were able to cover the crop end of of things. But cattle guys were out there, wondering if there’s a product for their operations.

The new product is similar to federal crop insurance, said Mesman.

“Natural disasters due to weather and disease are part of the insurance product. Hopefully, we’ll have more clarity with these meetings coming up in South Dakota.”

What is Weaned Calf Risk Production (WCRP) Insurance

Just over a decade ago, Western South Dakota cattle producers were at ground zero of Winter Storm Atlas. The storm lasted for days, dropped record amounts of snow, with fierce winds that killed tens of thousands of cattle. Mesman says the pilot insurance product would cover those kinds of losses.

“It would have made a tremendous difference when Atlas rolled through,” said Mesman.  “There were some folks who had some coverage with their private insurance companies.  But nothing on the level that this type of insurance product would have provided.”

The Farm Bureau will hold informational meetings on the new program Wednesday, Dec. 6, 11:30a.m. (MT) in Wall, S.D., at the Wall Community Center and Thursday, Dec. 7, 11:30a.m. (CT) in Mitchell, S.D., at Mitchell Technical College.

“Producers can get coverage levels for calves anywhere from 50 to 85 percent,” shared Mesman. “There is also catastrophic coverage options as well.”

Mesman says the signup deadline for the coverage is the end of January.

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From left, Steve Westra, former Commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, Gevo CEO Patrick Gruber, Lake Preston Mayor Andy Wienk and First Gentleman Bryon Noem participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking for Gevo’s Net-Zero 1 project near Lake Preston, S.D., Sept. 15, 2022. (Courtesy Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden/Twitter)

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