Real Farmers – Real Risks: Sentiments from Steve Sheldon of Sheldon Mel & Sheldon Family Farms
Article by Evan Lentz
Steve Sheldon, along with his family, own and operate two farms in Connecticut, one in Suffield and one in East Granby. Together, they have over 100 acres of hay, 150 acres of corn, 7 acres of broadleaf tobacco, and 8 acres of mixed vegetables. Steve Sheldon sat down to speak with UConn Extension about the importance of crop insurance and the role that it plays for him and his family on their two farms. Steve was not shy, stating right away that crop insurance is absolutely important to his operation, “There have been years that I’ve lost a crop and without crop insurance we wouldn’t be able to grow the following year because of outstanding debt. It’s an absolute necessity”. For Steve, he chooses to insure his two largest expenses, which are the grain corn and broadleaf tobacco, “We just can’t take the risk when we have a lot of money out on the crop”.
To get a better idea of the specific role that crop insurance plays at the Sheldon farms, Steve explains his operating strategy for tobacco production. “We take out an operating loan for tobacco production from Farm Credit and they won’t even give you a loan unless you have the crop insured”, he says. In the case of tobacco at Sheldon Farm, crop insurance has become a necessity unless they find a way to fund the crop themselves. Steve goes on to explain that the tobacco is a high-risk crop, “I’ve had to used it in the past. Blue mold can come and wipe your crop out, hail too”. He explains that the process is simple, stating the agents make it easy, “When you meet with an agent, they help you plan for your farm: What percentage coverage you want, what the cost will be per acre, and what you’re covered for.” Steve explains the process, “If you do have a loss, you simply file a notification of loss. An agent will come out to your farm to assess the damage, calculate the loss and cut you a check.” He makes it sound easy and stress free which is great considering a crop loss is stressful enough.
Steve gave us his final thoughts on crop insurance, “I wouldn’t grow tobacco without it, even the grain corn. I haven’t had to use it yet on the corn, but if I had a loss, I know that I’d be covered.” And as far as advice for those seeking crop insurance? Steve says, “Choose a high enough option, to cover all of your expenses. That way, even if there is a total loss, at least your expenses will be covered”. For more information about crop insurance plans, please contact your local Extension office. And to watch Steve’s whole video on crop insurance visit the UConn Extension’s RMA website at http://ctfarmrisk.uconn.edu under the Resource Library Tab.