Shellfish farmers in New England are stuck for now with crop insurance options that some senators call "inadequate."
Congress failed to reauthorize the federal Farm Bill before it expired on Sunday, and the Senate’s version of the bill would have expanded crop protections for shellfish farmers.
The idea is that shellfish like oysters and clams can get sick, and that’s risky for people who farm them to make a living.
Right now, only oysters are eligible for crop insurance, but four democrats, including Rhode Island U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, have advocated to change that.
They pushed for mussels, clams and scallops to be eligible for crop insurance too. The bill would also allow shellfish to be insured at different life stages, instead of as a single crop, to accommodate risks from unexpected weather events and illness.
A final version of the farm bill is expected from Congress later this fall, but there’s no guarantee that broader crop protections for shellfish will be included.