With the farm bill (H.R. 2) expected on the House floor in the next few weeks, farmers, ranchers and many others are urging lawmakers to protect crop insurance.
In a letter to House members, the American Farm Bureau Federation and more than 60 other groups representing agriculture and conservation interests asked legislators to oppose amendments that would jeopardize crop insurance, including those that would reduce or limit participation, drive up insurance costs or harm private-sector delivery.
Crop insurance is a unique risk management tool available to more than 120 crops in all regions of the country, the groups noted. It is purchased by farmers who must prove they have met a deductible to be eligible for a payment for a portion of their loss. On average, farmers collectively spend $3.5 billion to $4 billion annually out of their own pockets for crop insurance coverage, and the average deductible is approximately 25 percent of the expected value of the crop.
“Finally, instead of placing the entire risk for crop insurance on the American taxpayer—like ad hoc disaster assistance does—crop insurance shares risk between the taxpayer, farmers and the private sector delivery system,” the organizations said.
Without crop insurance, most farmers would not be able to qualify for the operating loans they need to plant crops. In addition, crop insurance provides environmental benefits by requiring farmers to meet wetlands protections and highly erodible lands protections to be eligible for a premium discount. Crop insurance is also a rapid response solution to disasters, helping farmers to rebound quickly, meet credit obligations and pay for input expenses like fertilizer and equipment.
“Crop insurance is food and fiber security insurance, and food and fiber security is national security. Given the importance of crop insurance, the undersigned organizations urge you to support America’s farmers, ranchers, rural economies and national security by opposing amendments that would harm crop insurance,” the groups wrote.
Farm Bill Action Week: April 30-May 6
The current congressional district/state work period, which runs through May 6, is a great time to contact your representative and senators to ask them to support the farm bill, whether in person or via emails, phone calls or social media posts. The long-awaited legislation (H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018) improves several programs including dairy, Agriculture Risk Coverage, federal crop insurance, conservation, specialty crop, and research and development. It also provides much-needed help for cotton farmers.