Between scoops of corn ice cream and live music, farmers and policymakers gathered yesterday at Minnesota Farmfest to discuss the issues that matter most to rural America. The Listening Session held by the House Agriculture Committee presented an opportunity for farmers, lenders, and other agricultural stakeholders to outline their priorities in the upcoming Farm Bill.
One topic came up over and over again: crop insurance.
Farmers testified that crop insurance is an essential risk management tool for America’s family farmers, and they asked that it be protected and strengthened in the next Farm Bill.
“On behalf of thousands of farm families across this state, as you craft this 2023 Farm Bill, please first do no harm to crop insurance. It is the cornerstone of the farm safety net,” said Richard Syverson, President of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.
Syverson also warned the committee to not be misled by false promises of “reforming” a crop insurance system that works.
Tom Haag, President of the National Corn Growers Association and a fourth-generation farmer, also spoke to the value of crop insurance. Put simply: “It works, it’s proven… 96% of the corn farmers in Minnesota use it. That’s how valuable it is.”
Large swaths of Minnesota are currently experiencing some level of drought, and Bob Worth, President of Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, said that crop insurance has been an invaluable safety net. “This is going to be my third year of a drought, and if it wasn’t for crop insurance, a lot of farmers like me probably would not be surviving,” Worth said.
Worth also expressed the need to protect and strengthen crop insurance so that younger farmers can afford crop insurance coverage. Without the protection provided by crop insurance, these young farmers might not be able to secure the working capital they need to plant again another season.
“If we don’t keep our young farmers back on the farm – or get them back on the farm – farming as we know it will be gone, because us old farmers are going to have to quit sometime. So, that’s so important that we do have a great crop insurance.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman GT Thompson (R-PA) closed the panel by putting the importance of the Farm Bill and the farm safety net into perspective:
“If American farm families fail, every American family fails. We can’t let that happen.”
Other members of Congress also recognized crop insurance as key to the farm safety net.
“We’ve been talking a lot, been visiting with a lot of groups… and we’re talking about the priorities for the Farm Bill… the one that I hear a lot is crop insurance. Making sure that that’s still a strong program.” – Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN)
“It’s so important for us to remember that food security is national security. So, what we’re talking about in the Farm Bill is much more than just a simple farm program, or a crop insurance title, it’s really about food security and national security.” – Rep. Brad Finstad (R-MN)
“What I heard from you today was really, really clear on a number of topics. We’ve got to make sure that the next generation of family famers and producers have a robust crop insurance program, instead of forcing you to rely on the ad hoc programs, like we’ve done previously.” – Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN)
“I’m passionate about crop insurance, and how we have to protect it. Especially revenue insurance.” – Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-IA)
“Many of the key issues I’ve heard from my farmers and through my work on the agricultural committee, resound true here today. Some of these similarities, and we’ve heard them from almost everyone who’s come up at the mic: strengthening the farm safety net, fostering crop insurance risk management tools…” – Rep. Max Miller (R-OH)