Taking a gamble on crop insurance will pay off for farmers this year

The drought has devastated the corn crop this year, making crop insurance a necessity.

With this year's drought devastating much of the heartland's crops, farmers with crop insurance are considered the lucky ones. Two types of crop insurance - crop-yield and crop-revenue - protect farmers from sustaining major losses due to floods, droughts or a price decline for agricultural goods.

The problem? It's expensive.

"I will spend around $50,000 this year just for crop insurance, but it's been a very good insurance policy for me this year because I won't have the bushels that I normally have and the price is extremely high," said Clark Yeager, a farmer in Wapello County. "And then we've got some protection against aflatoxin, which is a fungus disease that gets in the corn."

Yeager has seen several ears of corn with aflatoxin, marked by its small size and malformed shape. If the percentage of aflatoxin is too high in a yield of corn, the crop is rejected, further adding to a farmer's losses. However, it's difficult to predict how much crop will be damaged each year.

Another problem with crop insurance - it's confusing. In the U.S., it's a federal program, sold through several private companies, who all release different adjusters. So for farmers, it comes down to a guessing game.

"We have no idea how it's all going to end up by the time the season's over, but we will be compensated for the decrease in yield," Clark said. "As far as the aflatoxin, we don't know if we'll be compensated for that or not, so there are a lot of questions that are to be answered yet."

This year, taking the gamble on crop insurance seems to have been a smart investment. Next year, who knows?