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Crop Insurance Witnesses Laud Program, Urge Some Fixes

Congress is continuing its review of the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill as it prepares to debate and reauthorize the farm bill next year. A National Corn Growers Association leader testified before the House Ag Committee that federal crop insurance is essential to farming and has to get protected from harmful budget cuts.

Tom Haag of Minnesota is the First Vice President of the NCGA. “Federal crop insurance is a major pillar of risk management for the vast majority of corn growers,” he said during testimony. “Simply put, the public-private partnership of crop insurance works and plays a significant role for agriculture in the wake of natural disasters.”

Haag added; “While individual growers are not made whole, crop insurance provides the tools and ability to recover and continue operating into the next year. Last week, NCGA held our Corn Congress Summer Fly-in. Corn growers stressed that our number one priority for the farm bill is to protect crop insurance.”

Haag says farmers bought almost 600,000 crop insurance policies last year, insuring over $52 billion worth of liabilities. Nationwide, he says there was coverage on over 83 million acres of corn.

During the development, passage, and implementation of the last farm bill, both the House and Senate Ag Committees defeated attacks on the program and found ways to strengthen the federal crop insurance program. Haag says NCGA will provide farm bill recommendations in the months ahead.

Crop insurance agents and producers told Ag lawmakers the program that’s highly valued by farmers is working well, but some fixes are needed in the next farm bill.

AgriSompo Chief Executive Bob Haney, on behalf of the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau and the American Association of Crop Insurers, urged a strong focus on crop insurance over disaster aid.

“We would discourage the creation of any disaster program that would dis-incentivize farmers from purchasing crop insurance or that would directly compete with the existing crop insurance products or products that are currently available in the private sector.”

That, as natural disasters increase, and ad hoc aid becomes more frequent. Agent Kathy Fowler for the Crop Insurance Professionals Association; “Don’t be tricked into pay limits and AGI means testing on crop insurance under the idea that this will help small farmers, because it won’t. It will hurt them by raising their premiums and raising the good risks from the risk pool. Don’t cut premium cost share. Increasing premiums would move the crop insurance program backwards.”

But Fowler encouraged farmers to buy higher levels of coverage and asked for more overall funding for crop insurance.

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