New resources explain crop insurance for small grains

Farm and Food

By Kate Hansen, former staff member

Across the country, thousands of farmers grow small grains such as wheat, oats, barley, and rye. Some choose to do so for conservation benefits, while others aim to diversify their income streams, to take advantage of local markets, or meet the requirements of organic certification. 

But, as with growing any crop, there are associated risks. While farmers who grow crops like corn and soybeans often purchase federal crop insurance to manage risk, far less insure their small grains.

Studies also suggest there is uncertainty about what programs are available to do so. In a 2022 survey of Midwest farmers conducted by researcher Lauren Asprooth, 39% of respondents who grow small grains said they didn’t know if federal crop insurance was available for them. 

To address this uncertainty, the Center for Rural Affairs has developed a set of fact sheets and the report, “From Seed to Secured: Crop Insurance for Small Grains.” These resources outline various options for federal crop insurance for wheat, oats, barley, and rye. 

The most common is a multi-peril crop insurance policy, which protects a farmer’s average yield from natural perils—and sometimes price changes. If a multi-peril policy is not available for a specific crop in a farmer’s county, they may be able to secure individual coverage by applying for a written agreement with their agent. 

Another avenue is Whole Farm Revenue Protection, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency pilot program that insures revenue across the entire operation, rather than basing coverage on average yields. 

The resources—available at—also outline specific considerations for small grains under contract, and those grown for specific markets. One example included is an endorsement available to better cover the value of malting barley. 

We encourage small grains producers to explore the options available to them so they can make the best risk management decisions for their operations.