Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that a provision she introduced and fought to pass to protect Long Island shellfish and aquaculture producers was included in the final Farm Bill, which just passed the Senate and House of Representatives. Shellfish producers are at high risk of losing their crops and equipment because of weather, diseases, and changes in the marine environment. This provision would allow shellfish producers to obtain insurance coverage under the Whole Farm Revenue Protection insurance program. The Farm Bill now heads to the President’s desk and is expected to be signed into law.
“Our shellfish producers have never had an effective insurance program, and that puts their work and livelihoods at risk,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Agriculture Committee. “I’m pleased the final Farm Bill includes the provision I wrote to make it easier for our shellfish producers to protect their crops and equipment against loss, expand their businesses, and produce high-quality seafood. I will always fight to protect New York’s aquaculture producers and make sure they are getting the support that they deserve.”
The current insurance program, the Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program, provides a safety net for diversified farmers and producers who want to insure all of their crops under one insurance policy. However, these policies have not provided sufficient coverage for shellfish producers. Shellfish producers typically grow many varieties or hybrids of a particular clam or oyster to improve their odds of a successful harvest. The current WFRP program treats the different types of shellfish as the same, ignoring the unique risks of each hybrid and stage of growth. Gillibrand’s provision would treat the different growth stages of shellfish and other aquaculture species as separate crops, which would allow the insurance program to recognize those different levels of risk and write more comprehensive and fair policies for producers.
Earlier this year, Gillibrand also joined U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in urging the Agriculture Committee to amend the Whole Farm Revenue Protection current program to better support shellfish producers. Shellfish production is a growing industry in New York. Clam production in the state increased by more than 70 percent between 2012 and 2013, and in 2017, the New York shellfish industry was valued at $16.2 million.