News

Farmers Warned Against More Attacks on Crop Insurance


Agriculture is gearing up to fend off continued attacks on crop insurance in Congress as negotiations over a new farm bill begin.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that crop insurance is going to have a target on its back,” said Tara Smith, vice president of federal affairs for the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, which is a liaison between member companies and regulatory agencies.

Attacks on crop insurance can come from any direction, she said.

Congress last year attempted to cut $3 billion from crop insurance in a budget bill. The funds were reinserted in a transportation bill.

“So in the unlikeliest of places, crop insurance can actually come up,” Smith said.

In 2015, farmers paid $3.7 billion in premiums and the government subsidized $6 billion in premiums, according to the USDA Risk Management Agency website. Some $9.6 billion in losses were paid.

Annual budget and appropriations cycles are opportunities for opponents to “take jabs” at crop insurance, Smith said.

“We really need to be diligent, being sure we’re watching those processes and we’re not just talking to the agriculture committee when we talk about cuts to crop insurance and how important crop insurance is,” she said. “We need to be sure we’re reaching out to the appropriations committees, budget committees, to be sure those folks have good information as well. They could end up having a say over what the program looks like also.”

Roughly 80 percent of U.S. farm acreage is insured, said Rick Williams, senior risk management specialist at the USDA RMA office in Spokane.

Organizations representing both the far left, such as the Environmental Working Group, and far right, such as the Heritage Foundation, have made it clear they’d like to see insurance cuts, Smith said.

“A lot of what those folks put forward about crop insurance isn’t exactly true,” she said. “If it’s not blatantly false, it’s half-truths.”

A coalition led by the bureau works to address myths and ensure information is accurate when speaking to legislators and the new presidential administration, Smith said.

“We’ve learned some valuable lessons through the last farm bill negotiations that we need to apply and be way more strategic in our approach,” said Marva Ulleland, vice president of operations for Northwest Farm Credit Services in Spokane.

Harmful amendments could include a 30 percent reduction in private sector delivery, payment limitations of $40,000 and full disclosure of anyone receiving payments or benefits from government subsidies through the crop insurance programs.

“The revenue protection in your policy is literally at risk here,” Ulleland said. “We’re going to need all of the grass-roots movements to protect that part of the policy language.”

Smith, Ulleland and Williams spoke during a panel discussion at the Tri-State Grain Growers Convention in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Source: Matthew Weaver, Capital Press

ProAg Quick Links

Agent Toolbox Grower Toolbox Careers

ProAg News

2019 fall cover crop considerations

In our business, we have seen some excellent soil health and erosion benefits from cover crops and encourage growers to take a look at the rewards cover crops can provide. Whether you plan to interseed into a standing crop or wait to plant until after harvest, there are many options and variables to consider....

Dicamba Injury Study

Research has shown that soybeans entering the reproductive phase are most vulnerable to injury from dicamba. That reproductive time is now across the major production areas, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Crop Progress and condition reports....

Bill would protect U.S. domestic food supply

U.S. Senators introduced bipartisan legislation to address the shortage of agricultural inspectors who protect our food supply and agricultural industries at the border. Agricultural inspectors work to prevent the intentional or unintentional entry of harmful plants, food, animals and goods into the United States....
Get ProAg updates via email
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×