Artusa said the critical time for farmers in the central United States will be in late spring to early summer.
“From 35 to 60 percent of Central U.S. annual precipitation comes in May, June and July,” he said. “This is very, very important to these areas.”
Whether the rain will arrive to add relief is unknown, but farmers are hoping for more certainty from Congress when it comes to farm policy just in case the rain clouds fail to materialize.
Growers are encouraging lawmakers to pass a new five-year farm bill, which includes a mix of traditional income supports, conservation programs and research to help growers cope with risk.
In addition farmers are quickly buying up crop insurance -- a public-private program administered by private companies and underwritten by the government that helps cushion the blow when the worst happens.
March 15 is the deadline for purchasing crop insurance for most spring crops. Farmers, last year, paid more than $4 billion out of their own pockets to purchase insurance policies and industry leaders expect participation to remain high in 2013.
And because so much insurance was in place in 2012, there were no calls for costly, taxpayer-funded ad hoc disaster bills.
USDA Under Secretary Michael Scuse applauded crop insurers during a February industry meeting for a job well done in quickly processing claims and delivering indemnities to farmers dealing with disaster.
“The risk to our farmers and ranchers continues to increase each and every year, and not just by the weather but by the increases in cost of production,” Scuse concluded. “We need to continue this partnership and working together … and make sure that the American citizens have the most abundant, safest and most cost-effective food supply to be found anywhere in the world.”