Bottoms Farm Partnership; Bell Family Partnership; Bell Planting Co.; Nez Farms, Inc. Plaintiffs - Appellants
Sonny Perdue, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture; Risk Management Agency; Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Defendants - Appellees
Submitted: March 15, 2018
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri - St. Louis
WOLLMAN, SHEPHERD, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
ERICKSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Farm Partnership, Bell Family Partnership, Bell Planting
Company, and Nez Farms, Inc. ("Appellants" or
"farm entities") appeal from a grant of summary
judgment by the district court deferring to an insurance policy
interpretation made by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation
("FCIC") and a determination regarding the
FCIC's authority made by the Risk Management Agency
("RMA"). We affirm.
Appellants are rice farmers in southeast Missouri. They each
planted rice in Stoddard County during the 2012 crop year.
The rice crops were insured under federally-reinsured
multi-peril crop insurance policies purchased from Rural Crop
Insurance Services ("RCIS"). The insurance policy
was provided under the auspices of the Federal Crop Insurance
Act ("FCIA" or "Act"), which is
administered by the FCIC and the RMA.
the farm entities purchased the insurance and planted the
2012 crop, their rice crops were damaged by excessive
rainfall in Stoddard County. The farm entities filed claims
for indemnity with RCIS. RCIS denied the claims on the ground
that the crops were not insurable under the policy because
levees were not surveyed and constructed immediately after
seeding the rice and levee gates were not immediately
installed and butted as required by a special provision in
the policy. The special provision states:
In addition to the definition of Planted Acreage specified in
section 1 of the Crop Provisions, the following must have
occurred immediately following seeding. If these activities
have not occurred, the acreage will be considered
"acreage seeded in any other manner" and will not
1. levees are surveyed and constructed;
2. levee gates are installed and butted; and
3. the irrigation pump is operable, ready to be started in
the event sufficient rainfall has not been received, and
turned on to provide sufficient water for the purposes of
germination or elimination of soil crusting.
the farm entities' claims were denied, they sought
arbitration with RCIS as was mandated by the Basic Provisions
of the policy. In their arbitration request, they each stated
their proposed interpretation for consideration. After
considering the arguments of the parties, the FCIC agreed
with RCIS's interpretation and provided the following
Any time a term is not defined in the policy, its common
meaning is used and that is found in any standard dictionary.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines
"immediately" as "without any delay."
This means the listed activities must occur right after
planting has ended, weather permitting, without any delay. If
weather prevents ...