The monthly meeting by the Ashe County Beekeepers Association was led with a presentation by representatives of the Farm Service Agency
Julia Houck, community director of the FSA and Sunny Estes, a farm loan manager for the organization were on hand to answer questions beekeepers might have had about maintaining their hives.
One topic during the meeting was on the types of insurance available that might cover the potential amount of honey lost by this year’s rainfall,
Beekeepers were also offered information about farm loans available that could be used to purchase new equipment.
Part of the presentation was on the Non-insurable Assistance Program (NAP). In NAP, all honey is considered a single crop, and the honey made for human consumption is eligible for the assistance.
“(NAP) covers crops that risk management or regular crop insurance will not cover,” Houck said. “Honey is covered under that, but it isn’t the bees, it’s the production.”
Excessive moisture is one of the eligible causes for loss. The assistance would cost beekeepers $250 a year, but would cover all parts of the nation.
Houck said keepers need to know their annual production of honey (APH) in order for the benefits to work. In 2013 there is an average yield of 49 pounds per colony with honey costing approximately $2.38 a pound.
“This is a disaster year,” she said. “So if you field your APH you won’t be held to this low yield, because it will be your actual production history. If you don’t have the records to field your APH, then you’re stuck with this low yield.”
Houck said that a total loss would need to happen for this program to be able to pay, but noted the option was available.
“It is not the best program in the world, but as far as I know it’s the only insurance on your honey,” she said.
The other option that was presented by the FSA representatives were microloans, which allow farmers to take out a maximum of $35,000 to buy equipment, annual items and essential tools.
Estes said that those applying cannot have already been given a loan by a bank.
“The reason for that is that we have very limited funding, so we have to save the money for those who can’t get commission credit,” she said.
There are two types of microloans available through the FSA. An annual loan can be provided so farmers can buy seed, fertilizer and anything that will be used throughout the year and a term loan that is used for equipment and livestock, such as queen bees.
Estes said the new fiscal year in which the microloans will be available starts on Oct. 1. These loans will be given on a first-come first-served basis.
“Basically the term of the loan is based on the life of the security,” she said.
For more information on the assistance or microloan, email Houck at Julia.Houck@nc.usda.gov.