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New Shellfish Pilot Crop Insurance Program for Container-Grown Oysters

Updated: Nov 20, 2023


Oyster cages on water
Image Maryland Sea Grant Extension

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UPDATE 11.20.23 - Deadline to purchase has been extended to Dec. 15, 2023.


Last week, the USDA announced a new shellfish pilot crop insurance program. The pilot program is available in certain counties in Maryland (Dorchester, St. Mary’s) as well as Virginia, Alabama, California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. The coverage is aimed at providing protection against yield losses due to “named storms, excessive heat during a low tide event, freeze during a low tide event, or low salinity due to excessive rainfall.” The program will be effective for the 2024 and succeeding crop years. The first sales closing date is November 30, 2023, for the 2024 crop year.


The program is an actual production history-price component (APH-PC) coverage policy for container-grown oysters commercially cultivated for the fresh half shell market. Under the terms of the policy, “containers” are “floats, bags, rafts, trays, longline systems, racks, and other off-bottom cages commonly used by the shellfish industry.”


For the APH-PC coverage, the producer selects the percentage of the average yield to insure. Coverage levels are available in 5% increments from 50% to 75%, and CAT (catastrophic) level of coverage is available. Producers can also select the percentage of the crop price to insure, between 55% and 100%, as established annually by RMA.


The program also allows producers to purchase additional levels of coverage to insure a higher price based on their personal sales records. If producers purchase additional levels of coverage, they may also increase their price guarantee using their historical sales records. The producer price option is not available for CAT level of coverage.


The insurance guarantee is based on the number of oysters expected to be harvested between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.


The program uses county loss triggers, as established in the Shellfish Data Provisions available on RMA’s website, combined with producers’ sales records to confirm a loss has occurred.


Insurability requires a minimum of 4 years of records and a minimum seed size of 4mm.


Shellfish grown in nurseries and hatcheries are not insurable under this pilot crop insurance program.


Online Informational Sessions Available

The USDA is offering online sessions to provide information and answer questions about the program:


October 13 10:00 am CST


October 16 9:00 am CST


October 17 1:00 pm CST


October 18 9:00 am CST


Other Types of Federal Crop Insurance for Shellfish

The Shellfish Pilot Crop Insurance Program is a new type of crop insurance coverage offered by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). RMA also offers crop insurance for certain aquaculture categories through crop insurance programs for Group Risk Plan oysters and cultivated clams, and the Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) plan of insurance. WFRP provides a risk management safety net for all commodities in an operation under one insurance policy.


How to Purchase a Crop Insurance Policy

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. To purchase crop insurance, contact a crop insurance agent. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator.

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