Thank a Farmer This Labor Day

Labor Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of the millions of men and women who keep America running.

This year, don’t forget to thank a farmer.

Approximately 2.6 million Americans work directly on a farm. Nearly 20 million more work in food and other agricultural-related industries.

Farming and ranching are certainly not your average 9 to 5 job. It’s sunup to sundown and sometimes all night long. Farming is a lifetime of commitment to caring for animals or producing a sustainable crop. It’s boots-on-the-ground work that requires equal measures of grit and grace and a little bit of good luck.

Despite the immense challenges that they have been presented with this year, America’s farmers and ranchers have continued to work every day in order to provide America with the most affordable, abundant and safest food supply in the world.

American agriculture keeps our grocery store shelves stocked, even in the midst of crisis, and supports our rural economies. That’s why we’ve made it our work to support America’s farmers and ranchers.

Crop insurance policies protect 380 million acres of land, or more than 90 percent of insurable farmland. Crop insurance is there when disaster strikes to quickly lend a helping hand and ensure that farmers can plant again another year.

We’re proud that America’s farmers invest their own money into sustainable risk management tools by purchasing crop insurance. And we are grateful for the continued bipartisan support from Congress for a strong Federal crop insurance program.

We will always work to ensure crop insurance remains affordable, widely available and economically viable. It’s a critical component of the farm safety net that protects our farmers and ranchers as they do what they do best: work hard to feed the world.

As you head into the holiday weekend, give a moment of appreciation for our farmers and ranchers. We certainly will.

Texas Farmer Hopes for Rain, Counts on Crop Insurance

Rain in West Texas can be scarce. So scarce, in fact, that farmer Brett Schniers wrote in a recent op-ed for the San Angelo Standard-Times that “when you lay down at night, you pray for rain because you don’t know when you’ll see it again.”

Despite the incredible promise of 2020, it has been a tough year for farming and ranching families across the country.

The Schniers family has already faced blistering drought, softball-sized hail that leveled their corn crop and plummeting prices due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“This year, we’ve needed all the help we can get,” Schniers wrote. “That’s why I’m grateful Congress, through the Farm Bill, helps make crop insurance affordable and widely available.”

Farmers and ranchers are resilient. Even in years like 2020, where it seems yet another disaster is always just around the corner. But while he hopes for rain, Schniers knows he can count on crop insurance:

We prepared at the start of the pandemic because we knew, as farmers, we couldn’t stop working. We had to be ready to produce as much food and fiber as we could, even with Mother Nature’s threats and an uncertain market looming.

I’m proud of the work American farmers do every day to make sure our nation is not reliant on imported commodities.

I’m also proud that our leaders in Washington are backing a strong farm safety net with tools like crop insurance.

Crop insurance is a big part of the reason farmers are able to go to work every season despite storms and droughts and faltering commodity markets.

We are proud to provide a critical risk management tool. Crop insurance helps America’s farmers and ranchers produce the affordable and reliable food, fuel and fiber necessary to keep our nation moving forward.

Congress continues to support crop insurance as a cornerstone of the farm safety net and farmers invest their own money in crop insurance to protect more than 90 percent of insurable farmland.

Schniers credits crop insurance with keeping him in business this year, writing, “The American farmer is the backbone of this country. And crop insurance is the backbone of the American farmer. It’s what we stand on.”

We could not agree more. We’re proud to stand side-by-side with America’s farmers and ranchers.

Read Schniers’ full op-ed on the importance of crop insurance at the San Angelo Standard-Times.

Wheat Growers Count on Crop Insurance

This year, America’s farmers and ranchers have faced one challenge after another. For wheat farmers in the west and Midwest, their crop is now threatened by severe drought conditions that could contribute to yield reductions or total crop loss.

Thankfully, more than 90 percent of insurable planted acres are protected by crop insurance, including many of America’s more than 47 million acres of wheat.

Without crop insurance, “producers in these drought-stricken areas could lose their crops without any risk protection, which could drive those farming operations out of business,” wrote Dave Milligan, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, in a recent op-ed for the High Plains Journal.

One wheat farmer in Kansas reported less than one and a half inches of rain in the last year. Others worry about the increased threat from wildfires.

Milligan is a Michigan wheat farmer himself and very familiar with the inherent dangers of farming and the nature of disasters like drought. He wrote that producers need to have reliable access to crop insurance to effectively manage their risks.

Farming is a risky business, and crop insurance is one of the most important policy tools that is relied on to mitigate risk…

As a crucial component for protecting producers and the feasibility of farming, crop insurance provides a risk management tool for unpredictable weather and assists producers in qualifying for the necessary operating loans to produce a crop. With this in consideration, any cuts or reduced access to crop insurance programs could be detrimental to farmers who rely on it to stay in business when disaster strikes.

Crop insurance has been so successful because it relies on a unique partnership between the federal government and the private crop insurance industry. This allows crop insurance to utilize private-sector efficiency to process claims and deliver payments quickly.

As Milligan makes a point of noting, farmers invest their own money into crop insurance:

Crop insurance is such an important policy tool for farmers that they invest their own money to purchase this protection. Farmers spend $3.5 to $4 billion per year to purchase crop insurance and bearing a significant portion of losses through deductibles. The federal government spends less than a quarter of 1% of its budget on farm safety net programs, making this a worthwhile investment to protect the world’s most affordable and safe food supply. Adequate funding of crop insurance should be a high priority for policymakers as agriculture is being hit with low prices, the effects of COVID-19, and other unpredictable disasters.

Milligan also cites the critical role that crop insurance plays in supporting the rural economies that depend on the income generated by farmers and ranchers. Because if America’s farms fail, their communities will be likely to crumble.

We hope that America’s wheat growers experiencing drought will soon see the rain they need. But no matter the storm – or the drought – crop insurance is here for America’s farmers and ranchers.

Maryland Farmer Thankful for Crop Insurance During Uncertain Year

In farming, the future is never certain. It requires trust that a planted seed will sprout and then flourish and hope that weather or market conditions will not upend that year’s crop.

One thing America’s farmers and ranchers did not predict this year: a global health care crisis.

Brooks Clayville grows row crops on his family farm located on the eastern shore of Maryland. Clayville recently authored an op-ed for The Dispatch sharing that, like many farmers, he began 2020 with high hopes before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

“Corn and soybean prices, for the first time in a long time, were expected to improve with the resolution to the ongoing trade wars that have hit rural communities hard,” Clayville wrote. “But the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically interrupted our economy and our food supply chain.”

Every year, Clayville writes, he purchases crop insurance to help protect his crops and ensure that his family farm can survive any challenges that may arise. Including the current pandemic.

Now, more than ever, Clayville believes that crop insurance is an important tool:

Although rural America faces mounting uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mother Nature certainly won’t give anyone a pass this year. Farmers in Maryland and all across America need to maintain the tools that allow them to protect their farms and keep supply chains moving.

The best tool out there for mitigating the risks of weather and prices is the public-private partnership of crop insurance…

Farming is an expensive and risky business. Farmers have to buy all of the inputs that go into growing a successful crop before they know what the final harvest prices will be and without knowing whether a big storm is going to ruin all of their hard work or whether a pandemic will create new challenges that we didn’t plan for this planting season.

And Clayville is concerned not only about the farmers growing our crops, but the rural economies and small-town jobs that are supported by agriculture:

I think about the banks and equipment dealers, hardware stores and grocery stores in my town. If farmers weren’t spending money on Main Street, we’d have no town keeping our rural economies alive and grocery stores stocked is critically important.

The bottom line: farmers require the strong farm safety net provided by crop insurance to provide certainty as they navigate an uncertain world and continue their essential work of feeding and fueling America.

Crop Insurance Protects Essential Food and Fiber Supply

Steve Ward talks to as many lawmakers as he can about farming. Specifically, growing cranberries.

Ward grew up helping his dad on the family farm in Massachusetts, building cranberry bogs and digging ditches. Now, he farms that land with his son.

But growing cranberries is extremely labor intensive and carries a large amount of risk, not the least of which is the constant threat from Mother Nature.

Ward recently wrote a letter to the editor of his local paper, the Taunton Gazette, emphasizing the critical role that crop insurance plays in protecting America’s farmers:

At every step in this process, Mother Nature can destroy the crop.

Too much water can erode a bog. Not enough water can stress the plant. Hail can destroy berries and flowers in minutes. Fire worms can chew through a bog and leave what looks like ashes in their wake.

You can be left with no crops, no income to cover all the input costs and no money to grow again next season.

That’s why the strong farm safety net of crop insurance helps me sleep at night. I would not be in business without crop insurance.

The public-private partnership of crop insurance means farmers get financial help fast after a disaster. It allows them to stay in business and continue to produce the food, fiber and fuel that are essential to our nation’s safety and security.

Crop insurance saved me. I would not be in business without it.

Our farmers and ranchers have continued to work day-in and day-out throughout this pandemic to provide Americans with a safe and affordable food supply. Let’s ensure we continue to provide the protection they need by supporting a strong crop insurance program.

Crop Insurance an Essential Part of Farmers’ Hurricane Preparedness Kits

June 1 marked the beginning of hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean and its already off to a roaring start. One month in and three named storms have already affected the United States – two of those storms formed before the season even officially began.

Most recently, Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall in Louisiana, and it will very likely be far from the last storm this year. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a 60 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season.

For those farming in the Gulf and Atlantic states, a hurricane could destroy everything they’ve worked to grow or care for in just one catastrophic event.

But after the floodwaters recede and the winds die down, America’s crop insurance industry will be there to help set them on the road to recovery.

Just as we were there when Irene destroyed Cash Ruane’s corn crop in 2011.

By the time Hurricane Irene reached the picturesque mountains of Vermont, she was only a Tropical Storm but her capacity for destruction was unmatched. Historic flooding left water on Ruane’s fields for more than four days and at one point threatened his cow herd.

Thankfully, Ruane had purchased crop insurance, as he always does, and immediately called his crop insurance agent.

“I had my indemnity payment within 10 days to two weeks,” he said. “I was impressed, because I was expecting two to three months,” he said.

One crop insurance agent based in Maine recalled the following Spring that for many farmers in New England, “crop insurance was the only thing that saved… them from losing their farms to bankruptcy and instead allowed them to return to their fields.”

We were still there the following year when Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast.

Because the unique partnership created by the Federal crop insurance program is able to leverage private sector efficiencies, adjusters were on the ground in just days to assess damages and indemnity checks arrived in weeks, not months.

And crop insurance helped Justin Price when Florence left his soybean crop a total loss in 2018.

“I had been smart in my decision making, and carried crop insurance, which you know that’s not a salvation but it’s a help.”

We don’t know what this year’s hurricane season will bring, but we know that crop insurance will never leave our farmers or ranchers behind. Not when a pandemic strikes and certainly not when a hurricane hits.

The crop insurance industry is proud to provide an affordable, accessible and personalized safety net to America’s farmers and ranchers.

America’s Farmers Remain Open to Feed America

Chip and Karla Bailey own KC Bailey Orchards in Williamson, New York, where they grow apples. They’re proud to help provide for their neighbors as well as customers across America, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The past few months have resulted in some dramatic changes in our daily lives, but for America’s farmers, like the Baileys, there are still crops to be planted, fields to be fertilized and apple trees to be pruned.

The Baileys recently wrote an op-ed published in their local paper, the Times of Wayne County, talking about the essential work America’s farmers and ranchers continue to perform at this critical moment:

This crisis has demonstrated the importance of supporting our farmers and ensuring that we have a stable, safe and affordable food supply.

But with farming comes immense risk. The Baileys write that they are always dealing with weather threats. Hail and frost are not only hard to plan for, but they can be devastating to an apple crop.

That’s why they purchase crop insurance. The Baileys consider crop insurance a fundamental part of the farm safety net and are asking Congress to continue to support this important program:

Farming is our passion. As first-generation farmers, we know the difficulties that come with growing food. The COVID-19 virus has created more challenges and that’s why we are thankful for the steps that Congress has taken to help support rural America by passing aid packages with help earmarked for farmers.

However, it’s important that Congress also support, long-term, the farm policies that assist our family farm and allow us to survive even the difficult years.

That includes tools such as crop insurance.

America’s farmers are still farming. Let’s make sure they have the tools they need.

 

NY Apple Farmer: Hope Has Not Been Cancelled

A family apple farm in New York is reminding America that farmers are still out there growing essential food, fiber and fuel.

Chip and Carla Bailey produced a video at their KC Bailey Orchard in Williamson, NY, with a simple message: Hope has not been cancelled.

“Because of COVID-19 a lot of things have been shut down and cancelled across America,” Chip Bailey said. “But on the farm, springtime is not cancelled.”

The video features the family hard at work pruning, fertilizing and planting trees to get ready for the spring.

The apples they grow are an important and nourishing food source for many communities. The family is proud to grow food for their neighbors right in New York and customers across America.

Their son, Josh, had to leave college after classes were cancelled but he’s happy to be back on the farm helping out.

“I’m able to work on the farm and I think that’s a great opportunity to be back with the team and keep contributing any way I can,” he says.

The Baileys were featured in a video story National Crop Insurance Services produced last year about how crop insurance helps family farms and allows them to survive the difficult years.

“Unfortunately, so many things have been cancelled but America we are growing the food for you,” Chip Bailey says. “And just remember that hope has not been cancelled.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Crop Insurance Backs Farmers During Unprecedented Uncertainty

Crop insurance has been there for rural America through the many uncertainties that farmers and ranchers face every single day. It’s helped agricultural producers survive droughts, tornados, blizzards, floods, low prices, prevented plantings and even volcanos.

Still, over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new and unprecedented challenges as farmers navigate supply chain disruptions and try to predict how this crisis will affect demand for the products they raise. Yet, despite these difficulties, farmers continue their essential work to feed, clothe and fuel our nation.

So, we have no doubt that we will weather this storm, together, as well.

Crop insurance helps manage some of the risk that farmers still face. Because Mother Nature does not abide by stay-at-home orders and droughts, floods and freezes will inevitably occur, regardless of the pandemic.

Now more than ever, as farmers are planting their crops while facing an unpredictable future, crop insurance is a familiar tool, with a track record of success, that farmers can rely on as they work to feed America and the world. And we are proud to be a trusted partner to so many famers across the country, protecting more than 90 percent of planted acres.

Crop insurers, agents and our partners at USDA have been hard at work to support our producers and we are proud to maintain our incredible record of service to the America farmer during these uncertain times.

We are so grateful for rural America’s tireless commitment to ensuring that we have safe, affordable and nourishing food to provide for our families. That’s why, through this pandemic –  and all storms large and small – we’ve got your back.

Crop Insurance Protects Rural America, Solidifies Popularity as Risk-Management Tool

Crop insurance proved to be a critical risk-management tool for America’s farmers in 2019, keeping rural America afloat during what was one of the most difficult years in recent memory. Crop insurance policies protected a record 380 million acres of land, or more than 90 percent of planted acres.

In his opening remarks today at the crop insurance industry’s annual meeting, Jim Korin, chairman of National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) and president of NAU Country Insurance Company, credited crop insurance’s integral role in the farm safety net for its increasing popularity.

“Despite the financial challenges that rural America has faced over the past several years, farmers continue to invest in the reliable crop insurance products we provide,” Korin said. “This is a testament to our industry’s record of service as well as the trust farmers place in us to provide assistance with efficiency and integrity when disaster strikes.”

In 2019, farmers purchased 1.1 million crop insurance policies, collectively paying $3.75 billion in premiums and shouldering more than $10 billion in deductibles.

As disasters threatened both planting and harvest across the heartland, the crop insurance industry acted quickly to deliver aid. As of Feb. 10, 2020, the crop insurance industry has already paid more than $9.15 billion in crop insurance indemnities to help farmers cope with their losses, and this number is expected to grow as claims are finalized.

“The fact is, corn fields and cow herds can’t survive on political promises,” Korin said. “Farmers can’t wait for politicians to fight over the details of what they deserve when their farm and their livelihood is on the line.”

Mike Davenport, chairman of the American Association of Crop Insurers and Chief Operating Officer of Rain and Hail LLC, a Chubb Company, also addressed the convention and asserted that crop insurance delivered as promised to farmers.

“We have indeed helped farmers and ranchers manage a challenging year by processing claims and getting payments out the door quickly. It underscores why private-sector delivery is such an integral part of the program and it demonstrates that crop insurance works,” Davenport said.

Both Korin and Davenport praised the wide availability of crop insurance, noting that the program protects the vast diversity of food, fuel and fiber production across the United States.

Korin concluded his remarks by pledging that the industry will continue its efforts to strengthen crop insurance, saying: “We will always work to ensure crop insurance remains affordable, widely available and economically viable.”

Crop Insurers: Proposed OMB Budget Undermines Farm Safety Net

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) today released a proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget that includes steep cuts to the Department of Agriculture and federal crop insurance.

The American Association of Crop Insurers, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, and National Crop Insurance Services released the following joint statement in response:

“Last year brought unprecedented challenges for rural America. Even now, farmers and ranchers across the country are dealing with the lingering consequences of weather events that destroyed fields and ruined crops. And there looks to be no reprieve from the ongoing rural recession: The USDA estimates that farm cash flow will tighten this year, dropping more than $10 billion, or 9 percent, from 2019.

“The federal crop insurance program reacted quickly and efficiently to keep many farmers afloat during this difficult time. It’s no wonder then that the nation’s farm organizations teamed up in late 2019 to ask Congress to reject any attempts to cut crop insurance and weaken the farm safety net when it’s needed most.

“It’s inexplicable as to why OMB would target such a critical risk-management tool for budget cuts. The proposed cuts will make crop insurance unaffordable and unavailable for farmers, seriously undermining the farm safety net.

“The crop insurance program works for farmers and taxpayers alike:

  • Crop insurance protects more than 90 percent of America’s planted crop land acres.
  • Farmers invest in their own protection by spending $3.5 to $4 billion per year to purchase crop insurance and bearing a significant portion of losses through deductibles.
  • Crop insurance policies provide critical collateral to farm bank and credit lenders who assist farmers through operating loans, especially during a time of low commodity prices.
  • The federal government spends less than a quarter of 1% of its budget on the farm safety net, including crop insurance, making this a worthwhile investment to protect the world’s most affordable and safe food and fiber supply.

“Thankfully, for the sake of America’s struggling farmers and ranchers, OMB’s budget is sure to be rejected by Congress. We urge the White House and Congress to support America’s farmers and ranchers by protecting and strengthening crop insurance.”

Investing in the Future of Agriculture

National Crop Insurance Services is proud to invest in the future of agriculture through the NCIS 1890 Scholarship Program. NCIS awards scholarships to students majoring in agriculture-related disciplines at historically-black 1890 Land Grant Universities.

Scholarship recipients are driven students with strong academic records. Their accomplishments are not constrained to the classroom and students have a dedicated record of service to their communities.

These awards not only help deserving students complete their education, they promote diversity in agriculture in recognition of the wide range of farmers NCIS serves.

NCIS is proud to introduce the exceptional young men and women who have been named this year’s recipients of the NCIS 1890 Scholarship Program.

Celina Bowman is from Woodbridge, Virginia, and attends Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. Bowman is majoring in Family and Consumer Science with a concentration in General Dietetics with the goal of becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

 

A’ysha Callahan is from a low-income neighborhood in Waukegan, Illinois, and is majoring in Food Science at Alabama A&M University. She is dedicated to helping people in poor communities improve their lives by improving their diets.

 

 

Myles Davis is from Kansas City, Missouri, attending the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Davis is majoring in Agricultural Business and one day he would like to help reduce food insecurity in low-income urban areas.

 

 

Morgan Green is from Houston, Texas, and the first member of her immediate family to attend college. She is an Animal Science major at Prairie View A&M University and would like to continue her education to become a veterinarian.

 

Kevin H. Holmes Jr. is from Marianna, Arkansas, and is pursuing a degree in Agricultural Business at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.  Holmes grew up working on the family farm and would like to use his degree to help his family succeed on the farm.

New York Dairy Farmer Thanks Crop Insurance

Dairy farmer Steve Durfee milks about 1,000 cows at his farm in upstate New York. It’s a family operation, started by Durfee’s grandparents in the 1940s after they lost everything during the Dust Bowl in Nebraska and moved east to start again.

Now, if anything were to happen on Durfee’s farm, he has peace of mind knowing that his crop insurance policy will help protect his family and give them the opportunity to rebound.

Durfee shared his experience with crop insurance in a recent guest column he wrote for the Madison County Courier:

When I think back to the challenges my grandparents faced as they packed up and left Nebraska, it reminds me just how much farming has changed. I think they’d be surprised and pleased at how successful our family farm has become.

We wouldn’t have been as successful without a strong farm safety net. The centerpiece of that safety net is the public-private partnership of crop insurance.

I recently invited representatives from the crop insurance industry to my farm to tell my story and show them how we use crop insurance to manage the weather and price risks that, for my grandparents, were nearly unmanageable.

The large investment required for each acre we plant makes crop insurance a must. Buying insurance helps take out some of the risk on those acres.

As Durfee notes, farmers would rather sell their products on the market than file an insurance claim. Thankfully, crop insurance helps America’s farmers and ranchers pick up the pieces when disaster strikes, ensuring they can continue providing our nation with food, fuel and fiber.

He concluded his column by urging Congress to keep families like his in mind as they discuss protecting and strengthening farm policy.

I’d like to thank Congress and the American public for backing a strong system of crop insurance in the Farm Bill. As the political cycle heats up and we head toward the 2020 elections, I hope policymakers will remember just how important crop insurance has become to rural America.

Find more first-hand stories highlighting the importance of crop insurance at CropInsuranceinAmerica.org.

Giving Thanks for Our Farmers

This Thursday as you gather around the Thanksgiving table with your family and friends, we hope you pause for a moment to give thanks for America’s farmers and ranchers.

Our farmers work long hours all year long to make the Thanksgiving bounty we enjoy possible.

And farmers are thankful for the Federal crop insurance program.

Crop insurance protects the corn and peas on your table, sweet potatoes in the casserole, pecans and sugar in the pie, even the cranberries in the sauce. The farmer who raised the centerpiece turkey may have protected the land that bird foraged with crop insurance, too.

In total, more than 100 crops are covered by the Federal crop insurance program.

More than one million crop insurance policies protect 90 percent of farmland, providing a dependable risk management tool for farmers of all sizes and many of the foods found at your table, no matter your Thanksgiving tradition.

Producing these crops carries with them a huge amount of risk. Especially in years like these, where weather made planting difficult and harvest impossible for some farmers. Some farmers may not survive what has been an exceptionally tough year. But many others will be able to plant again next spring, thanks to the safety net provided by crop insurance.

Farmers are grateful the Federal crop insurance program gives them an opportunity to invest in their own protection. Farmers and ranchers are required to help fund the crop insurance program, spending $3.5 – 4 billion annually on premiums alone and shouldering billions more in deductible losses.

But crop insurance gives farmers a fighting chance against unpredictable dangers that could jeopardize an entire farm’s future in a moment.

And since it’s run in partnership with the private-sector, farmers do not fear having aid held up by a slow political process. They receive aid in weeks – not years – for their verified losses.

So, as we enter into this season of gratitude, take a moment to celebrate the hard work and dedication that goes into producing America’s food.

Crop Insurance Receives Bipartisan Praise

Autumn is here and most of America’s farmers are in the full swing of harvest. As farmers are working long hours in the field, legislators on Capitol Hill are tackling a different kind of challenge: implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.

The 2018 Farm Bill was passed last December and included key provisions to strengthen crop insurance and solidify its position as the most important risk management tool for farmers.

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee recently held a hearing where Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky provided an update to senators on the USDA’s progress on implementation of the legislation.

With crop insurance being a critical program for rural America, it is no surprise that it received praise from both sides of the aisle during the hearing.

During his opening statement, Censky applauded the federal crop insurance program, saying that it “has been a vital part of the farm safety net.”

Censky also noted “key provisions related to veteran farmers and ranchers have been implemented that made crop insurance more affordable and with more robust coverage.”

National Crop Insurance Services previously commended Congress for including provisions in the Farm Bill to expand crop insurance to veteran farmers. This will help expand the farm safety net to traditionally underserved communities and give veterans the tools they need to effectively manage their farming risks.

Committee Chairman Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), also touted the crop insurance program, particularly during what has been a difficult year for farming.

“This fall, as producers are trying to harvest their crops, challenges have continued just this past week,” Roberts said. “The 2018 Farm Bill does provide important risk management tools such as crop insurance to mitigate the risk and losses from these unpredictable weather-related events.”

Ranking member Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) joined in the bipartisan praise, noting that the 2018 Farm Bill “recognizes the diversity of American agriculture” and expands access to the federal crop insurance program for new crops and types of production.

All told, the crop insurance program provides a dependable risk management tool for a wide variety of crops and farmers of all sizes. More than one million crop insurance policies protect 90 percent of farmland. It also covers more than 100 crops, a fact that was cited by Senator John Boozman (R-AR) during his line of questioning.

“Crop insurance is certainly a cornerstone of reform policy, provides crucial risk management tools for producers and covers well over 100 crops,” Boozman said.

With such high praise, it’s easy to see why Congress strengthened crop insurance in the 2018 Farm Bill.

As America’s farmers harvest this year’s crop and prepare to sow again in the spring, they know that they can depend on the affordable and reliable safety net provided by crop insurance.

New York Farmers Rely on Crop Insurance to Manage Risk

Apple farmer and agri-tourism business owner Matthew Critz got up on New Year’s morning last year to a beautiful winter day in central New York.

Not a cloud in the sky. Wall-to-wall sunshine.

“I look outside at the thermometer and it says 30 below,” he recalled. “And it’s even colder in my orchard. We lost 70 percent of our crop in about three hours that morning.”

Without apples, his business would die. Critz Farms, in Cazenovia, is an easy drive from Syracuse and attracts about 70,000 visitors a year. He sells apples, blueberries, maple syrup and Christmas trees along with brewing beer and hard cider.

“If we don’t have apples, people don’t come,” he says.

Crop insurance saved Critz last year and allowed him to purchase enough apples to make up for the shortfall caused by Mother Nature.

“It did provide quite a good cushion for us,” he says.

National Crop Insurance Services visited farms across central New York as part of our mission to tell the first-hand stories of the farmers and ranchers who rely on the safety net provided by the federal crop insurance program.

Dairy farmer Steve Durfee in Chittenango says the large investment required for each acre he plants makes crop insurance a must. He has about 1,000 milk cows, grows corn and wheat and runs a small vegetable stand mostly for the surrounding neighborhood.

“Buying insurance helps take out some of the risk,” he says. “Last year just looking at what the price of milk was and saying if it continues at this level, it would certainly put a lot of stress on our finances.”

He bought a dairy revenue protection policy to help mitigate the risk of the volatile dairy market. Fortunately, the price of milk rebounded, and he didn’t need to use the insurance.

Like all farmers, Durfee would rather sell his products at a good price than make an insurance claim.

“Crop insurance is just like all the other insurance you have,” he says. “We end up spending a lot of money on insurance, but you can sleep at night knowing if something happens, you are going to be protected partially and you will be able to rebound from it and continue on.”

Down the road in Wolcott, that peace-of-mind is something Alicia Abendroth understands. She runs Abendroth’s Apple Ridge Orchard with her brother and father. They’ve been in business about 6 years.

“For my brother and I, this is a huge deal and we want to grow this,” she says.

As a young farmer, and a young family business, protecting the investment they make in each apple tree is critical to make sure the business grows.

Hail in August this year damaged a crop of early apples right before harvest.

“When something like that happens, there is nothing you can do,” she says. “You just kind of watch it fall. We utilize crop insurance when incidents like that happen that are completely beyond our control. And we are thankful we have it because it’s saved our lives. Crop insurance has helped my dad sleep better at night.”

Central New York is a wonderful place to farm with generally good growing conditions and easy access to large populations of consumers. But here, like the rest of America’s farm country, Mother Nature can be unforgiving.

Back in Cazenovia, that’s something Matthew Critz says he never forgets.

“Your worst risk is weather,” he says. “And if you can cushion that risk with crop insurance, you gotta do it because farming is such a risky business.”

View more stories from across the country at ncis.staging.wpengine.com.

Crop Insurance Helps Pennsylvania Farmer Manage Risk

National Crop Insurance Services recently visited the Grove City, Pennsylvania, farm of John Ligo to discuss how the farm safety net has helped protect his farm against risk. A farmer by choice, Ligo worked in the financial industry before he and his wife purchased their farm in 1988. Now, they produce farm-to-table beef, raising approximately 600 cattle and growing about 400 acres of corn alongside 600 acres of grass and rangeland.

Ligo recently published an op-ed in the Pennsylvania publication Lancaster Farming praising the Federal crop insurance program, an excerpt of which is below:

I’m a farmer because it gives me a chance to shape the land. I can shape my business and my reputation and build my ethic to that picture in my mind of how things should be.

 I don’t know what else I could do besides farming to create that. It’s not always easy, and it’s full of risks, but I love it.

 The risk in farming is part of the landscape. It comes with the job.

 Some risks are controllable, and some are not. We always have risks of health, for the farmer and the livestock. We have risks in weather, which can somewhat be mitigated by our practices, and sometimes not.

 One of those things we can do to manage crop production risks is crop insurance. Crop insurance allows me to expect at least a bottom-line income.

 Last year we had 40 inches of rain here. By June 10, I was short a hundred acres of what I intended to plant. Crop insurance helped me with that.

 There have been years when the sunshine just didn’t bring it to us, and crop yields were low. Crop insurance helped me then, too.

 There are years, occasionally, when we have a drought and grass production is just not what it should be, and feed is hard to buy. A pasture rangeland forage policy through crop insurance helped me during the droughts and I was able to continue doing what I am doing.

 I know my risks are at least covered to a certain extent with crop insurance.

Ligo concluded his op-ed by thanking Congress for expanding crop insurance in the 2018 Farm Bill and calling on lawmakers to ensure crop insurance remains affordable and widely available in future policy debates. Because without crop insurance, farmers like John Ligo would be unable to provide America with the safe, affordable and high-quality products that feed our nation.

House Crop Insurance Caucus Shares Importance of Farm Safety Net

Congressional staff filled a hearing room on Capitol Hill last week for the official launch of the bipartisan House Crop Insurance Caucus, hosted by co-chairs Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.).

The House Crop Insurance Caucus will work to share with lawmakers the benefits of crop insurance and demonstrate how this program helps our farmers endure hardship by mitigating their risks.

Bustos has seen first-hand how crop insurance can be a lifeline for farmers devastated by unexpected weather events. Her Illinois district was hit hard by the extreme weather that inundated the Midwest this spring. “Our growers and producers are hurting,” she said. “Our family farmers are hurting.”

“This bipartisan Crop Insurance Caucus will work arm-in-arm to educate other members about the importance of a strong farm safety net and agricultural economy,” Bustos said.

Thompson made it clear what’s at stake when it comes to protecting the Federal crop insurance program. “Having crop insurance is incredibly important,” Thompson said. “We know that agriculture is really about food security. And food security is really about national security.”

This briefing was just the first of many, as the caucus hopes to be an accessible resource for Congress and an avenue to encourage bipartisan collaboration to strengthen the Federal crop insurance program.

“This caucus aims to educate our colleagues and educate the general public on the importance and value of crop insurance.” Thompson explained. “It all starts today.”

Farmers and agriculture lenders also spoke alongside the members of Congress, sharing their personal experiences with crop insurance.

Illinois farmer Ron Moore discussed how the impact of crop insurance extends beyond individual farmers to the local economies that rely on the income generated by agriculture. “Crop insurance is a valuable tool that we have as farmers. It’s imperative that we continue to preserve that tool because it not only helps me as a farmer, but it also helps my community,” Moore said.

Heather Greenwalt, Assistant Vice President at Farm Credit Illinois, remembered the 2012 drought and the role crop insurance played in preserving family farms across the Midwest. It was a beautiful spring and all of the local farmers were so proud of what they were able to accomplish in the field, she recalled. Until one day it just stopped raining. It was the worst drought since the Dust Bowl.

But the farm safety net worked as it was designed. Private crop insurance companies worked efficiently to deliver aid to farmers, saving tens of thousands of jobs along with taxpayer money.

“Crop insurance in 2012 was the difference in people staying in the agriculture industry in 2013,” Greenwalt said. “And crop insurance is again in 2019 going to be a major and crucial risk management tool for many farmers and producers.”

Risk is an intrinsic part of farming and producers are always calculating the variables that can impact crop production or their herd. But Greenwalt knows that when disaster strikes, the farmers she serves can find comfort in knowing that crop insurance gives them options for relief.

Greenwalt added, “As an agent and as a farmer, a strong crop insurance program means for a strong rural economy and a strong food supply for our nation.”

Learn more about how the Federal crop insurance program works by watching our brand new Crop Insurance 101 video or visiting CropInsurance101.org.

National Crop Insurance Services Launches New Website to Educate Public, Policymakers on Importance of Crop Insurance

Our nation’s farmers and ranchers face unpredictable hazards, many of which can destroy a hard-earned livelihood in moments. Thankfully, farmers can count on crop insurance to help them navigate these risks and protect their operation should disaster strike.

However, the continued success of crop insurance depends on keeping the program affordable, widely available, and economically viable. And that starts with educating both the public and policymakers as to the important role crop insurance plays in the farm safety net.

National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) has launched a new website at CropInsurance101.org that aims to be an easily-accessible resource where visitors can learn more about the history of crop insurance, download fact sheets, or find a glossary of common terms. As part of this initiative, NCIS also debuted a new Crop Insurance 101 video that explains how crop insurance works.

The Crop Insurance 101 website was officially launched at a congressional briefing today hosted by the new House Crop Insurance Caucus.

Created by Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.), this bipartisan caucus will provide a forum for all members to learn more about the value of the public-private partnership that makes crop insurance unique while encouraging bipartisan collaboration to strengthen this program for rural America.

Members of the caucus include: Reps. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Mike Bost (R-Ill.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), TJ Cox (D-Calif.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), and Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.).

Illinois farmer Ron Moore provided congressional staff at the briefing with a first-hand perspective of the importance of crop insurance.

“The crop insurance program is a critical tool to protect against the risks that come with farming,” Moore said. “As the rural economy faces another tough year, it is encouraging to see members of Congress from both sides of the aisle come together to stand up for America’s farmers.”

And with crop insurance policies protecting nine out of every 10 planted acres of principle crops, crop insurance does more than provide economic security – it safeguards our nation’s food and fiber supply.

Learn more about how crop insurance works for both farmers and taxpayers alike by visiting CropInsurance101.org.

Crop Insurance 101

How Does Crop Insurance Impact Your State?

Crop insurance is a cornerstone of U.S. farm policy.

But what does that really mean for America’s farmers?

To put it all into perspective, National Crop Insurance Services has highlighted the state-by-state impacts of crop insurance at CropInsuranceInMyState.org.

There you can find individual fact sheets that illustrate the unique significance of agriculture in each state.

It’s probably to be expected that oranges are a staple in Florida, but did you know that New Jersey can thank tomatoes for being the largest agricultural contributor to the Garden State’s economy? Idaho might be famous for their potatoes, but potatoes lead the list of top crops for Maine as well.

And the federal crop insurance program helps these crops drive the economy by providing an invaluable safety net for those farmers and ranchers harvesting oranges, tomatoes, potatoes and the more than 100 additional covered crops.

Everything is bigger in Texas, and with 38 million acres protected by crop insurance, they come in at number one in acres covered. But corn-production powerhouse Iowa can boast the highest value of crops covered by federal crop insurance, with nearly $12 billion in protection.

And because crop insurance requires farmers, private insurance companies, and the federal government to share the burden of risk, each fact sheet outlines how much farmers and insurers invested into the federal crop insurance program through premiums and indemnities.

In total, federal crop insurance protects more than $100 billion worth of crops across more than 300 million acres in all 50 states.

Visit CropInsuranceInMyState.org to download a fact sheet for your state and view first-hand testimonials from the farmers and ranchers who rely on this valuable risk management tool.

Pennsylvania Farmers Consider Crop Insurance a Must-Have Tool

Brian Campbell always knew he wanted to be a farmer. He started a produce stand when he was just 14 years old. Now, his Pennsylvania farm produces mostly vegetables, including broccoli, sweet corn, lettuce and pumpkins.

But weather can be unpredictable in the Northeast, and his farm has seen challenges. In 2011, a severe flood wiped out approximately 50 percent of his expected revenue for that year. Banks no longer wanted to do business with him and he had to dig deep to recover.

Thankfully, the introduction of the Whole Farm Revenue Protection program with the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill allowed Campbell to adequately insure his diverse crops against risk.  

National Crop Insurance Services visited Brian Campbell Farms as part of our mission to tell the first-hand stories of the farmers and ranchers who rely on the safety net provided by the federal crop insurance program.

Campbell credits crop insurance for his growing success, saying, “If it wasn’t for whole farm revenue protection today, you know, I may not be at the size that I am.”  

And he’s always looking forward to the next year, “I love what I do. It’s a passion. I really enjoy it.”

For family farmer Dave Clark, farming is also a passion that he just couldn’t shake. He briefly tried working off the farm but returned to his roots in 2001 when he and his wife purchased the family farm in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

“I always say it’s in your blood. I love farming,” Clark says.

Clark considers crop insurance a must-have business tool. He relies on crop insurance to help protect his farm against the inherent risks that come with putting your faith in weather to grow your crops and a favorable market in which to sell them.

As John Ligo says, “Risk in farming is part of the landscape. The risks that we face, some are controllable, and some are not.” But he emphasizes that one way to help mitigate these risks is to purchase crop insurance.

His farm in Grove City, Pennsylvania is home to approximately 600 head of cattle and he grows about 400 acres of corn alongside 600 acres of grass and rangeland.

Last year, Ligo’s farm saw 40 inches of rain and by early June he was short 100 acres of what he intended to plant. Crop insurance helped his farm survive. During those years when drought hindered grass production, crop insurance helped him then, too.

“It does change the way I farm, knowing that my risks are at least covered to a certain extent,” Ligo says.

Third-generation dairy farmer Billy Smith feels deeply connected to his family legacy of farming.  

“I feel that it’s our God-given right here to take care of this land,” he says. “I feel that we’ve been blessed in many ways. You know, it’s our livelihood.”

He’s had to file a couple of crop insurance claims. But knowing that this valuable federal program exists helps ease the worries that come with farming. By reducing some of the risks that can arise on his farm, crop insurance allows him to better plan for the future.

“It’s always there to back us up whenever we need it.”

View more stories from across the country at cropinsuranceinmystate.org.

Congressional Testimony Touts Benefits of Crop Insurance

Farmers across the country know first-hand the critical role the federal crop insurance program plays in protecting our nation’s supply of food and fiber. It’s an important risk management tool that supports both America’s farming communities and the rural economies that rely on them.

Michael Davenport, COO of Rain and Hail and Chairman of the American Association of Crop Insurers, brought this positive message to Capitol Hill today when he testified before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.

Davenport’s testimony highlighted the unique public-private partnership that allows crop insurance to be flexible, affordable, available, and predictable.

By offering a variety of insurance products, federal crop insurance provides growers with dependable coverage options that fit the requirements of their individual farm. And with new investments in technology and a continuous focus on high-quality customer service, private crop insurers can quickly process claims while keeping costs manageable.

The 2018 Farm Bill helped strengthen the federal crop insurance program, and Davenport thanked the committee for investing in the American farmer.

“With the continued bipartisan support for the public-private partnership crop insurance provides, farmers are able to receive a reliable and cost-efficient safety net to protect both themselves and the future of farming,” Davenport testified.

The overwhelming success of crop insurance has made it the cornerstone of the federal farm safety net. More than 1 million federal crop insurance policies provide more than $100 billion in coverage across 300 million acres of farmland in all 50 states.

“The bottom line is that the crop insurance program is successfully meeting the needs of thousands of farmers who can tailor their risk management needs to serve them best with the help of a local agent,” Davenport said.

And as farmers face significant challenges this year, Davenport emphasized to the committee that the private crop insurance industry is standing ready to provide timely assistance and “fulfill the promises of the Federal Crop Insurance Program to each and every farmer who purchased a policy.”

Farming can be unpredictable. But the federal crop insurance program provides a reliable safety net that benefits farmers and taxpayers alike.

Farm Bill Expands Crop Insurance for Young, Veteran Farmers

The future of farming depends on the next generation taking up the plow, so to speak. But the barriers to entry can be prohibitive – and prohibitively expensive.

Costs for necessary items such as machinery, seeds, or land are high and add up quickly. Not to mention it can be difficult to obtain lines of credit in the first place without access to substantial capital or insurance giving banks the peace of mind that farmers will be able to repay loans.

And all of that sweat and equity could be wiped out in the time it takes a tornado to touch down or floodwaters to rise.

Thankfully, federal crop insurance provides a valuable safety net.

Farming can be an especially daunting task for those that are a part of traditionally underserved communities, such as beginning farmers or veterans.

Many of these farmers tend to lack the equity and liquid assets necessary to begin farming, and therefore rely on loans. And most lenders require crop insurance coverage to act as a backstop should disaster strike.

Congress recognized the importance of supporting these farmers and took steps to increase their access to crop insurance with the 2018 Farm Bill.

Legislators expanded premium discounts for Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) policies to those with ten years or less farming experience. Twenty-seven percent of American farmers fell into this category during the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

In addition, the Farm Bill reduced regulatory burdens for those with WFRP policies by allowing waivers for expanding operations, especially for small and beginning farmers, reducing record keeping requirements for small farmers and minimizing paperwork.

USDA data indicates that the rural population of post-9/11 veterans is growing quickly and provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill seek to increase access for those veterans who wish to enter farming. Congress included veteran farmers and ranchers as part of a new definition of underserved producers, allowing them to take advantage of improved crop insurance benefits such as additional premium discounts.

And the Farm Bill mandated that the Risk Management Agency produce an Underserved Producer Report every three years in order to continue identifying ways the federal government can reform and improve these programs in order to increase participation and better serve these communities.

In total, these reforms will help give new and veteran farmers the tools they need to effectively manage their risks.

National Crop Insurance Services recently spoke with young Iowa farmer Colin Johnson who emphasized the important role crop insurance plays in ensuring he can continue farming, saying that he “probably wouldn’t have lasted two years without… crop insurance support.”

Farming can be difficult. But access to affordable and dependable crop insurance will help pave the way for future generations of American farmers.

Crop Insurance Supports Penn. Farmers in Lean Times

Scott Bowser runs a dairy farm about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania’s famous farm country.

His dad bought the farm when he was 6 and started with a herd of 14 cows. It’s grown since then and today, Bowser farms with his wife and youngest daughter, Abby. His oldest daughter would like to come back to the family farm.

Like all dairy farmers in Pennsylvania, and across the nation, he’s felt the impact of tariffs in the international market and low commodity prices.

“You take the good with the bad,” he says. “And everybody knows, the last few years have not been so good.”

But Bowser loves it. And he wants to pass the farm down to his children.

“If you want something for your kids to take over … if that’s something that they really want to do, there has to be something there,” he says.

National Crop Insurance Services recently visited farmers across Pennsylvania to find out how they are managing to keep something here for themselves and the next generation.

Times are tough in the Commonwealth.

The state, second in the nation in dairy, lost 370 farms last year, according to USDA.

Farmers all across Pennsylvania say crop insurance – whether whole farm revenue protection or policies that cover pasture, rangeland and forage – plays a critical role in keeping family operations going.

Down the road from Bowser’s place, Jared Smith is the eight-generation farming his family’s land. He wants to pass it to his children.

“The margins in agriculture are so slim right now that I feel crop insurance gives you a level of security that you are going to have some income off the investment you are making into your crops,” he says.

It helped keep him in business last year when late season rains forced him to leave hay, meant for his cows, standing in the fields.

Bowser agrees. He went 10 years without making a claim until wet years hurt his corn and bean crops.

“Crop insurance is one of those things that when you need it, you need it real bad,” he says. “And you get that check and you’re really glad to see that check coming. You might not be in business if you didn’t have it. The risks are too great.”

Editor’s Note: National Crop Insurance Services is back on the road this year to speak first-hand with farmers, ranchers and insurance adjusters across the country about the unique challenges they face and the importance of crop insurance. The consensus is clear—crop insurance is one tool that farmers simply cannot do without. Watch their stories unfold at cropinsuranceinmystate.org.

Crop Insurance Wins Wide Support on Capitol Hill and In Countryside

Federal crop insurance and the critical role it serves as part of the farm safety net unexpectedly took center stage at a recent Senate Finance hearing with the United States Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow questioned USTR Lighthizer on the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) proposed spending plan for Fiscal Year 2020, which takes aim at the United States Department of Agriculture. OMB suggested making cuts to a popular farm risk management tool: crop insurance.

While this budget is unlikely to ever be adopted by Congress, Senator Stabenow, who is the top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, rightly noted that cuts to the USDA and crop insurance would be contrary to the policy objectives established by the overwhelmingly bipartisan passage of the Farm Bill in December 2018.

Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) immediately interjected, emphasizing that cutting crop insurance is a non-starter.

“It would gut the program,” the Chairman said of OMB’s proposal, “and that’s the one thing that our farmers and ranchers and growers all over the country said was the number one issue.”

He wasn’t alone in criticizing the plan.  Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) made his objections heard a couple of days earlier.

“More than 310 million farm acres protected by crop insurance would be at risk,” he said of the plan, which he noted, “undermines our farmers.”

And those farmers have been very clear in their message to Capitol Hill to “do no harm” to crop insurance. Some of these farmers reiterated this ask at this week’s Agri-Pulse summit in Washington, D.C.

Luke Howard, an organic farmer from Millington, Maryland, shared how crop insurance helped his farm after a record rainfall last year, stating it was a lifesaver and “a smart use of tax dollars.”

And a first-generation farmer, John Shepherd from Blackstone, Virginia, emphasized that he may not have survived his first few years of farming without the safety net provided by crop insurance.

Their stories and similar testaments from farmers and ranchers are clear.

We simply cannot balance the federal budget on the backs of America’s farmers and ranchers. And agriculture cannot thrive without a strong crop insurance system.

Celebrating Our Farmers Today and Everyday

Many Americans may never step foot on a farm. But America’s farmers and ranchers are an integral part of our everyday lives, working to feed and clothe the nation. In fact, each American farmer feeds more than 165 people.

Today is National Agriculture Day, a day to celebrate the American farmer and recognize the incredible contributions that our food and fiber producers make every single day.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has instituted an informal motto at the USDA: “Do Right and Feed Everyone.” The crop insurance industry is proud to support the farmers who devote themselves to this important mission.

America’s farmers are the most efficient in the world, but they can’t always predict what the future holds. Crop insurance helps protect our farmers and ranchers, ensuring that they can keep producing a safe and affordable supply of food for those here at home and abroad.

The federal crop insurance program protected a record 334 million acres in 2018. That’s more than 90% of America’s farmland. With insurance available for more than 130 different crops and affordable policies for operations both large and small, crop insurance provides an important safety net for farms across the country.

Jim Korin, chairman of National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) and president of NAU Country Insurance Company, recently said it best: “We must remember our purpose: To provide exceptional coverage and service to farmers and ranchers to help them do what they do best…feed and clothe the world.”

Thank you to all of America’s farmers and ranchers. Today, and every day.

Farmers Helped Protect Crop Insurance During 2018 Farm Bill Debate

Every five years, Congress sets the course for our nation’s agricultural policy with the passage of a Farm Bill. When farm policy critics predictably suggested that Congress use the 2018 Farm Bill to undermine the critical safety net that crop insurance provides, those who depend on crop insurance were quick to tell Capitol Hill to “do no harm” to this important program.

The House Agriculture Committee held listening sessions across the country to hear first-hand from rural Americans and their message was clear: “The crop insurance system today is working.

Heather Hampton Knodle from Fillmore, Illinois:

Crop insurance [is a] critical tool for risk management, not only for farmers and rural communities, but also for the government.

Ben Scholz, President of the Texas Wheat Producers Association:

I know you will probably hear it a thousand times that crop insurance is indispensable. And all I’m going to say here is it’s absolutely true.

John Giesenschlag from Snook, Texas:

I feel very, very strongly that we have to maintain the crop insurance program. I think that it is administered efficiently because it’s done through private companies. I think that you can choose your level of coverage that you want. I think the product is delivered timely. I think that revenues are delivered back to the farmer timely, the producer, much more efficiently than has been done in the other programs that have been put out there.

Noah Hultgren from Wilmar, Minnesota:

…crop insurance is so important to me. We’ve got three families directly that derive income from our farm, and if we did not have crop insurance, we wouldn’t be able to survive. We had weather issues this year, just like other people. We had a whole 80 acres of corn that got hailed out and normally, if we did not have crop insurance, we wouldn’t be able to survive. We needed that to basically break even possibly and so we can farm again.

Kyle Peterson, Chairman of the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative:

Most crop farmers borrow more in 1 year to produce a crop than most Americans do in a lifetime. Our growers and our bankers need strong risk management tools like crop insurance that are essential in order to secure operating loans to grow our crop. With more frequent and intense weather patterns, rising interest rates and production costs, and lower commodity prices, our risk has gone up, while our balance sheets have gone down. We simply have to have affordable crop insurance to manage those risks.

Linda Carlton-Huber, owner of CF&H Insurance Agency in Illinois:

Agriculture plays an integral role in our economy. If the farmer struggles, so does every town in Illinois. Crop insurance has made farmers a better businessman.

James Fitzpatrick, agent at Arthur Carroll Insurance Agency in Connecticut:

…just remember, with the cuts that have been talked about for the Farm Bill for crop insurance, that it’s these people’s livelihoods. I mean, they have no control over the weather, and they need the safety net. It’s not just farms, it’s families, and we’re protecting our country’s food supply.

These messages demonstrating the positive benefits of the crop insurance program were echoed by legislators back in Washington, DC during debate over the future of the Farm Bill.

Congress responded by passing with overwhelmingly bipartisan majorities a Farm Bill that included strong crop insurance provisions, giving our farmers certainty and providing them with the tools they need to manage their unique risks. President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law in December, saying that “by signing this bill we are protecting our crop insurance program.”

As Congress begins the annual budget process, America’s agricultural community has asked House and Senate appropriators to ensure that the crop insurance program receives the full funding that it requires to be successful.

None of this would have been possible without farmers’ voices telling Washington that crop insurance is an indispensable part of our nation’s safe and affordable food supply.

Crop Insurance Vital to America’s Family Farms

Just before the end of 2018, the Economic Research Service at the United States Department of Agriculture released a report analyzing data from a 2017 survey of farmers across the country. This report – titled “America’s Diverse Family Farms” – presents the facts behind farming in America.

According to the USDA:

  • Ninety-eight percent of U.S. farms are family farms, and they account for 87 percent of farm production.
  • Family farms categorized as midsize or large produced 62 percent of America’s food and fiber and accounted for 6 out of 10 harvested acres in 2017.
  • One-third of U.S. farm goods are produced under forward contracts to help manage price and production risks.
  • Seven in 10 American farms have an operating profit margin in the “red zone,” indicating a high risk of financial problems.
  • Farm income has declined almost 40 percent since 2013, and more than 40 percent of farms are now relying on income generated off the farm to make ends meet.

The crop insurance system that protects these family farms and makes forward contracting possible in today’s difficult financial environment was also mentioned in the report.

Two-thirds of midsize farms and three-fourths of large farms participate in crop insurance, the report found.

National Crop Insurance Services has traveled the country for the past year hearing first-hand from family farmers in Iowa to Colorado to North Carolina and elsewhere about their experiences. The message has overwhelmingly been that crop insurance is an invaluable tool for America’s farmers and ranchers, and that policymakers should “do no harm to crop insurance.”

Be sure to check out their stories and learn more about crop insurance’s importance to your state at www.cropinsuranceinmystate.org.

Crop Insurance Program Integrity Continues to Improve

Crop insurance’s already-low improper payment rate — a closely-watched standardized measure of waste and efficiency – improved again in 2018.

Martin Barbre, Administrator of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), delivered the good news this week while addressing the crop insurance industry’s annual convention.

The FY2018 rate of 1.81 percent marked the fourth consecutive year it declined, falling from 2017’s 1.96 percent and 2.02 percent and 2.20 percent in 2016 and 2015. The USDA and private-sector insurers made program integrity improvement a top priority following an improper payment rate of more than 5 percent in 2014.

“RMA has continued to improve program integrity for federal crop insurance through an effective public-private partnership with our Approved Insurance Providers,” Barbre said.

Improper payments occur when funds go to the wrong recipient; when the correct recipient receives too little or too much; or when the recipient uses funds in an improper manner. Many errors are simply rooted in data entry and reporting mistakes.

The government closely monitors improper payments for all major federal spending programs, and the last time a government-wide figure was posted, it was twice as high as crop insurance’s rate.

Tom Zacharias, the president of National Crop Insurance Services, which sponsored this week’s meetings, said the news illustrates the power of the crop insurance system’s unique public-private partnership and is a testament to investments made in recent years.

“Crop insurers enjoy a tremendous partnership with the USDA, and we work closely together to ensure that we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars and are constantly improving efficiencies for America’s farmers and ranchers,” he said.

Zacharias noted that the partnership fosters investment in data collection, education and training, monitoring and new research and technology to continually improve.

“In addition to the USDA’s hard work, the private sector is spending millions every year to maximize program integrity,” he concluded. “This new data is proof that crop insurance is a highly efficient, well-run public-private partnership.”

Farm Groups Defend Crop Insurance Budget

Farmers and legislators celebrated the end of 2018 with the passage of a bipartisan Farm Bill that preserves the farm safety net and provides farmers with the tools they need to manage the unique risks of farming.

As Congress begins the annual appropriations and budget process, America’s agricultural community joined forces to ensure that the crop insurance program receives the full funding that it requires to be successful.

Sixty organizations, ranging from farm groups to conservation organizations and lenders, sent a letter yesterday to the House and Senate Budget Committees, as well as Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, urging them to protect crop insurance during the budget process in recognition of its central importance to farmers and the rural economy.

Trying to balance the federal budget on the backs of farmers and ranchers would be a mistake, they wrote, with disastrous consequences for America’s heartland.

USDA has projected that 2018 farm profitability will be lower than it has been in over a decade, and farm income dropped more than 45% in five years. An over-reliance on budget savings from the agriculture community and from crop insurance will unquestionably undermine rural economies.  It’s also important to note that in a time of uncertainty in the farming and ranching community – from natural disasters to trade disputes to government shutdowns – the public-private partnership that is crop insurance has been a consistent and reliable risk management tool.  The certainty of federal crop insurance also offers lenders the assurances they need to continue to provide capital to America’s hard-working farmers and ranchers….

Cuts to crop insurance during this difficult time for rural America should be avoided.  Farmers and lawmakers agree that crop insurance is a linchpin of the farm safety net and is crucial to the economic and food security of rural America. The importance of crop insurance was just reaffirmed less than two months ago with the passage and signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, and we urge you to oppose cuts to crop insurance during this year’s budget process. 

Crop insurers and their allies in agriculture have been successful in fending off past attempts to weaken the farm safety net by harming this vital risk management tool. The overwhelming support crop insurance received during the 2018 Farm Bill debate is a testament to how popular the program has become – covering a record 334 million acres.

2018 Farm Bill Strengthens Crop Insurance

As policymakers, commodity leaders, and insurers gathered this week for the crop insurance industry’s annual convention, recent legislative changes to the federal crop insurance program was one of the top discussion topics.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the Farm Bill, included several provisions that strengthened crop insurance and solidified its position as an important risk management tool.

“Passing Congress with the largest margin of any farm bill in history, this legislation demonstrated that preserving the farm safety net is an issue that transcends partisan lines,” said National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) President Tom Zacharias. “We thank Capitol Hill for listening to rural America and working diligently to ensure that crop insurance remains affordable and widely available for our farmers and ranchers.”

The Farm Bill strengthened crop insurance by directing research for new products, promoting coverage for underserved producers, and improving the availability and workability of various insurance programs.

NCIS staff Troy Brady and Mickey Paggi outlined some of the most significant changes in a recent article for Crop Insurance TODAY magazine, noting that these provisions “will increase crop insurance’s role as a key component of farm policy.”

Notable provisions included:

  • Improvements to the Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) policy that will provide more meaningful risk protection, especially for small and beginning farmers.
  • Additional research on topics including new irrigation practices, existing citrus fruit policies, and the development of policies to better address low-frequency, catastrophic losses due to weather events such as hurricanes.
  • An annual review of research regarding the development of insurance for new crops and how to improve crop insurance coverage in existing programs.

“Speedy and accurate implementation will be important for farmers… as they look to their most important risk management tool to help rebound from the extreme weather and a slumping rural economy that plagued 2018,” the authors wrote.

NCIS will be working closely with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency to efficiently put the Farm Bill’s crop insurance provisions into action.

Crop Insurance Sets Record, Saves Money, Protects America’s Heartland in 2018

More than 334 million acres of farmland were protected by crop insurance in 2018, a 20 million acre increase over 2017 and an all-time high. And, crop insurance came in $2 billion under original federal budget projections for the year.

Jim Korin, chairman of National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) and president of NAU Country Insurance Company, noted these accomplishments, among others, in his opening remarks at the crop insurance industry’s annual meeting this week.

With more than 1.1 million crop insurance policies sold to farmers across the nation, Korin credited the growing popularity of crop insurance to the exceptional service provided by private-sector insurers and the unique working relationship they share with the government.

“The public-private partnership that defines crop insurance has been successful in providing the important safety net for our farmers and the rural areas where they live,” Korin said. He noted that the crop insurance industry has been able to quickly pay claims while routinely coming in below budget projections, saving taxpayers billions.

Under the successful crop insurance model, farmers invested in their own protection by paying $3.7 billion in premiums and shouldering a significant portion of losses through deductibles.

This public-private partnership was further reinforced with the overwhelming passage of a bipartisan Farm Bill in December that strengthened crop insurance and firmly rebuffed efforts by some critics to make the program less affordable and available to farmers.

“With everything that occurred during the year, nothing defined the world of agriculture more than the debate and passage of the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Korin. “This process saw congressional field hearings from coast to coast and a steady call from farmers across the nation to ‘do no harm’ to the crop insurance safety net.”

Larry Heitman, chairman of the American Association of Crop Insurers and senior vice president of NAU Country Insurance Company, also addressed the convention and said maintaining this kind of support from farmers will continue to be important moving forward.

“As tempting as it may be to relax until the next Farm Bill negotiations begin again, let’s remember our program is a target for those that want to redirect agricultural funds to their own causes or programs,” he told the group. “We must continue to maintain and strengthen our partnership with agriculture commodity associations and conservation and wildlife protection groups to work together for a coalition to benefit all Americans – rural and urban.”

Heitman and Korin explained that the industry’s attention will now turn to working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure a smooth implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, while continuing to serve rural America.

Korin concluded, “We must remember our purpose: To provide exceptional coverage and service to farmers and ranchers to help them do what they do best…feed and clothe the world.”

NCIS Fosters Next Generation Through Agriculture Scholarships

Our nation’s farmers come from every walk of life. Our workforce should reflect that fact.

National Crop Insurance Services is exceptionally proud to help foster the next generation of America’s agricultural community and promote diversity through the NCIS 1890 Scholarship Program.

Since 2010, NCIS has distributed nearly two dozen scholarships to students at historically-black 1890 Land Grant Universities in order to assist these students in completing their education and preparing for a career in agriculture. This scholarship program is a key part of a broader effort to proactively increase diversity in the crop insurance industry in recognition of the vibrant and varied communities we serve.

This year, NCIS awarded scholarships to five students who had demonstrated their academic prowess and an interest in agriculture. These deserving recipients were highlighted in December’s issue of Crop Insurance Today magazine.

Scholarship recipient Aaron Dore, from McDonough, Georgia, is majoring in economics with a concentration in agribusiness and a minor in business logistics at Fort Valley State University. Notably, Aaron has made the Dean’s List while playing cornerback for the FVSU Wildcats and conducting student research on organic vegetables.

Aaron wasn’t the only FVSU Wildcat to receive an NCIS scholarship. Hailing from the town of Louisville, Georgia, Jerstashia Sims is hoping to use her degree in agricultural economics to help lift up others from economically depressed rural communities.

“There have been semesters where I couldn’t take many classes due to how much financial aid I had. I would like to thank [NCIS] because that scholarship helps get me closer to graduation,” Jerstashia said.

Ashli Holloway is majoring in animal science at Alcorn State University. Originally from Stockbridge, Georgia, Ashli plans on working in the animal care industry and has dedicated time during her summer vacations to attend the Veterinary Science Training, Education and Preparation Institute at Tuskegee University.

Fellow animal science major Mary Mitchell grew up in the tiny town of Kremlin, Oklahoma, population 255. Now a junior at Langston University, this NCIS scholarship provides Mary with unique opportunities to continue developing her exceptional leadership skills.

Wesley Adair Maximilian Benson, known to most as just Max, is from Ardmore, Oklahoma, and is studying natural resources management at Langston University. Max is a positive role model for his peers, volunteering to help students who are struggling in classes and promoting mutual respect among his classmates.

Each of these students will bring their unique understanding of the issues facing our rural communities to their future careers in agriculture. NCIS congratulates them for receiving this hard-earned scholarship opportunity and we look forward to celebrating all of their future accomplishments.

New to Crop Insurance? Here’s How it Works

Every day, farmers spend long hours working the land and caring for livestock so they can provide high-quality food at an affordable price for all Americans across the nation.

This amazing feat would not be possible, however, without the critical safety net that crop insurance provides.

Farming presents a unique set of risks and a farmer’s financial well-being relies on factors as unpredictable and varied as changes in weather, the spread of disease, or the rapid fluctuation of market conditions.

With such a wide variety of potential risks and the likelihood that any particular event is geographically concentrated – an entire county could see their growing season ruined within mere moments by a tornado or freeze – the traditional private industry insurance model simply would not work for crop insurance.

The government developed the public-private partnership of federal crop insurance in order to protect and support farmers and thereby helping to stabilize the economies of the rural communities that rely on agriculture, without leaving taxpayers solely on the hook financially.

Under this successful model, farmers contract with any one of the 15 private insurance companies authorized to sell crop insurance by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, paying a premium in order to protect their crops. These insurance companies, or Approved Insurance Providers (AIP), work hand-in-hand with the federal government to help manage costs that would otherwise make coverage unattainable for the average farmer.

While the government sets rates and rules for the plans that can be sold and provides program oversight, it is the responsibility of the AIPs to write policies, as well as adjust and process claims. That means when disaster strikes, private industry can react quickly to assess damages and issue payments due, providing farmers and the communities who rely on their income with relative stability.

This public-private partnership requires farmers, private insurance companies, and the federal government to share the burden of risk and incentivizes private companies to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse.

Today, federal crop insurance protects more than 130 types of crops covering more than 330 million acres in all 50 states. So, from clams to cranberries, soybeans to sunflowers, our farmers can rest a bit easier knowing that this safety net exists.

And while farms and agriculture-related industries add over $900 billion annually to the American economy and create work for 21 million Americans, the cost for federal crop insurance represents just one quarter of one percent of the federal budget.

This seems like a worthwhile investment to ensure our farmers can continue providing food and fiber for our nation.

Family Farms in Iowa Find Crop Insurance Invaluable

The Swanson family has been rooted in Wapello County, Iowa for over 170 years. Don Swanson and his brother, Bill, grew up watching their fathers work the land. “It’s just a passion that we grew up with,” Don said.

It’s a passion that Don and Bill hope to pass along to their children and grandchildren.

But modern-day farming is more than the inherent satisfaction that comes from harvesting a crop planted from seed or raising the next generation of livestock.

“I wish I had time to do what lay persons consider farming – driving the tractor, feeding the cows,” Don laments. “It’s a full time job for me just managing the books, managing the risk, forward planning and strategic planning.”

National Crop Insurance Services has traveled across the country to talk to farmers and agriculture lenders on the ground to learn what crop insurance means to their farms, families, and communities. For the Swanson family, they would be left vulnerable without the safety net that crop insurance provides.

“Crop insurance protects that bottom line… It’s by far the best government program we have, hands down,” Don said.

Another multi-generation Iowa farmer, Dustin Johnson, enjoys being able to share the rewards of his labor with his children and expose them to the first-hand educational experiences that a working farm provides.

“In a world where technology has kind of taken over, it’s still nice to be able to bring the kids out, ride around in the tractor, get to see first-hand what Dad does every day,” he noted.

When Dustin started farming, the amount of capital required for essential items was daunting. Especially when his income relied not only on his hard work, but the hazards of unpredictable weather, and market fluctuations.

“The risks go way beyond anything that I can control,” Dustin explained. “Which is a really good thing to have crop insurance for.”

Crop insurance gives Dustin the peace of knowing that even in a down year, “we’re still going to have a safety there that we’re going to be able to farm next year.”

For many Iowa towns, agriculture is not only an integral part of the community but also critical to their economic success.

Erica Wuthrich from Bloomfield, Iowa, explains, “The majority of the families around here are farmers… if we didn’t have the farming operations around here, it wouldn’t be good – it would be awful.”

As young farmers, Erica and her husband, Brent, rely on the stability that crop insurance provides in order to keep their farm running. “We don’t make money from it, but it helps us sustain our operation,” Erica said.

Another young Iowa farmer, Colin Johnson, echoes this sentiment, “A component like crop insurance and the assistance that we get, as a young farmer, that helps me know I can continue farming another year. I have been farming for nine years on my own, and… I probably wouldn’t have lasted two years without my crop insurance support.”

Iowa farmers know first-hand that farming does not mean an easy harvest or quick profit. Jared Lyle, Senior Vice President and Senior Loan Officer for Iowa State Bank and Trust in Fairfield, stresses to his agriculture customers the importance of protecting their farms by purchasing crop insurance.

“It’s more a matter of a safety net to keep them from not losing quite as much money and keeping them in business,” Jared explains.

Weakening the public-private partnership of federal crop insurance would be detrimental to the Iowa families that Iowa State Bank and Trust serves.

“There will be less farmers in business for sure, if they lose that safety net,” Jared said. “Ag is very important. I would hate to see anybody underestimate that.”

New Farm Bill with Strong Crop Insurance Becomes Law

President Donald Trump today officially signed the 2018 Farm Bill, making the five-year bill a law.

The American Association of Crop Insurers, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, and National Crop Insurance Services issued the following joint statement in response:

 It’s been a difficult year for farmers and ranchers from coast to coast, but rural America is ending 2018 on a high note with this farm bill. The new law keeps crop insurance affordable and widely available for agriculture, and it provides much-needed certainty heading into 2019.

 President Trump and Secretary Sonny Perdue have been vocal champions of the farm safety net and crop insurance, and they helped deliver in a big way for farmers and ranchers with this new law. Likewise, congressional leaders from both parties should be commended for their dedication in passing a bipartisan bill that provides the tools farmers need to manage their unique risks.

Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Congressmen Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) worked tirelessly throughout this farm bill process to make U.S. agriculture stronger. On behalf of the entire crop insurance industry and the customers we serve, thank you.

 Crop insurance, which is delivered by the private sector, has become a key component of U.S. farm policy. Each year, farmers spend between $3.5 and $4 billion to purchase protection on the crops they grow, ensuring taxpayers are not shouldering all the risk. When disaster strikes, insurance aid is distributed quickly to help farmers pick up the pieces and plant again.

This year, 1.1 million crop insurance policies provided $106 billion in protection on more than 130 types of crops covering 311 million acres.

Efforts by farm policy critics to weaken agriculture’s primary risk management tool were soundly rejected by Congress, which heeded farmers’ advice to “Do no harm to crop insurance.”

Crop Insurers Comment on Farm Bill Conference Report

Leaders from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees yesterday released details of the 2018 Farm Bill compromise.

The American Association of Crop Insurers, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, and National Crop Insurance Services issued the following joint statement in response:

Farmers and ranchers have seen their fair share of challenges in 2018 – from hurricanes, drought and wildfires to depressed commodity prices. The farm bill conference committee took a huge step today in helping them cope with these challenges by releasing a bipartisan package. We urge Congress to pass the farm bill immediately.

The 2018 Farm Bill maintains a strong crop insurance system because lawmakers knew that agriculture’s top risk management tool would be needed during these difficult times. They ensured that private-sector crop insurance would remain affordable and widely available for producers despite attempts by opponents of crop insurance to weaken this critical component of the farm safety net.

We applaud the leaders and members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and the farm bill conferees, for crafting a comprehensive piece of legislation that has earned the backing of the agricultural community. We also thank our customers, who told lawmakers from Day 1 that protecting crop insurance was a top priority throughout this process.

Once Congress passes the new farm bill, we ask that the president quickly sign it into law, so America’s farmers and ranchers will have some certainty heading into the new year.

Both chambers of Congress will now vote on the pending conference report. If it passes, the 2018 Farm Bill will be sent to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

Eastern North Carolina farmers on long road to recovery after Hurricane Florence

WALLACE, NC – Justine Price was looking forward to a great soybean crop this fall. His beans were coming in strong, covering the fields of his eastern North Carolina farm in a lush green.

Mother Nature had other plans.

As Hurricane Florence approached the North Carolina coast, he moved his equipment to higher ground and prepared as best he could for what was expected to be a storm with Category 4 winds.

What he wasn’t expecting was the rain. The storm stalled once it made landfall and dumped almost 30 inches on his farm. The river flooded, and water rose to about 5 feet in his garage as Price and his wife moved their furniture to the second story of their home.

Today, piles of debris from the inside of gutted homes lines the street in his hometown of Wallace.

In his fields, brown and rotting soybeans are tangled. Old tires, a refrigerator, gas cans and wooden crates are strewn across another nearby field.

Price spends his time now trying to rebuild, helping his family and loading supplies at the fire department to help with the relief effort. His crops are a total loss.

“I had been smart in my decision making,” he says, “and carried crop insurance, which you know that’s not a salvation but it’s a help.”

Down the road in Mt. Olive, Reginald Strickland faces the same damage. His cotton crop is rotting in the fields and his tobacco is destroyed.

“Every dollar will help,” he says, “because we are going to be in the hole.”

And it’s not just this year. Eastern North Carolina has suffered hurricanes, droughts and low prices for several years running.

The damage left in Hurricane Florence’s wake is a reminder of the reason American agriculture needs a strong, affordable and widely available system of crop insurance. The adjusters will make their assessments and get payments to farmers here much faster than any ad hoc federal relief bill.

“Crop insurance is very important to all of Ag,” Strickland says. “We really need it. We have to have it. It is the only way we can continue to produce the food and fiber it takes to feed the world.”

Price says the payments won’t cover everything and they won’t provide him income until the next crop is harvested. But they will help him farm another season.

For now, he is putting his faith in a higher power.

“Just trust in the Lord,” he says. “That’s the biggest thing.”

Watch these stories and more at cropinsuranceinmystate.org.

Montana Farms Fight Weather, Low Prices to Stay in Business

Evan Volf spent a few years in banking after college. He had a good job with Northwest Farm Credit Services managing a growing portfolio in Bozeman.

It was 9-5 with weekends off, retirement and health insurance. The money was great for his growing family.

But Volf’s heart was at the family ranch and farm 120 miles north in Judith Gap. He grew up there with his two brothers and always dreamed of going back to work the land with his father, Jeff.

 

When his dad called one day and said there was a chance to lease more land and grow the business, he gladly gave up his banking job and moved his family back to the farm.

It certainly wasn’t the low pay or working seven days a week at the mercy of weather that brought him back.

“What brought us back is the lure of the country lifestyle and being your own boss and working with your family,” he said. “And working with your kids on a day-to-day basis and bringing them up with the values that we all know and love.”

The story of the Volf family is among several that National Crop Insurance Services documented in Montana as part of its ongoing series on American farmers and ranchers. The state’s vast distances and often unpredictable weather make farming and ranching here challenging.

Today, Evan farms with his wife, Brittany, three children EJ, Miles and Dexter, and his mom and dad. They raise red angus cattle, wheat, barley, alfalfa along with willow creek hay barely and peas.

This year, bad weather delayed planting. Typically, they are seeding by April 20, but weren’t able to get a seed in the ground until May 5.

And a big storm two days later brought five more inches of snow and kept them out of the fields for another two weeks.

His father, also grew up on the farm and ranch and has been running it full-time since 1978. He’s seen plenty of springs like this last one.

“Mother nature is always in the background saying hey we are going to dry out here next week … so we just really need to have (crop insurance) to cover our expenses if we do have major wipe out here with hail or a drought. And we’ve had that,” Jeff said.

Evan is likewise glad that crop insurance is part of the family’s business plan.

“Thankfully, we have crop insurance to help us manage these kinds of circumstances. We pay for this protection, but it is well worth it,” he explained.

Not far from the Volf farm, insurance adjusters learned how to accurately assess damage to crops in a training session at Montana State University’s Central Ag Research Center in Moccasin.

Eddy Joyce, an adjuster with ARMTech Insurance, who currently serves as the chair of the NCIS Montana Committee, was one of the instructors.

“We provide schools for both new and experienced adjusters and we also discuss potential policy issues within the crops here in Montana,” Joyce said.

Joyce said having a training school is important to make sure everyone is on the same page and to get all the adjusters, both young and old – experienced and inexperienced – familiar with the policies so there’s no variability.

“Any time you can be prepared and educated, I believe in any field, you are going to put whoever you are working with at ease. If they can see you are a knowledgeable individual within your field and a professional within your field they are going to be a lot more comfortable with you than if you go in blind, so to say,” Joyce said.

Mike Mills, who works for Rural Community Insurance Services and served as a trainer at the school, agreed.

“It’s really important that adjusters are trained in the NCIS procedures for the crops that have been researched so very well by the different aggregate universities throughout the Northwest and Montana and some even in southern Canada. They give us the most viable and accurate and fair way of providing, adjusting and evaluating crop damage to give the farmers fair payments on the policies they have bought,” Mills said.

Watch these stories and more at cropinsuranceinmystate.org

Crop Insurance Critical to Colorado Farmers

National Crop and Insurance Services (NCIS) is on the road this year to speak first-hand with farmers, ranchers and insurance adjusters across the country about the unique challenges they face and the importance of crop insurance. The consensus is clear—crop insurance is one tool that farmers simply cannot do without.

In this What’s Cropping Up, we are pleased to share profiles of farmers and ranchers in Colorado.

 

Steve Wooten

Steve Wooten operates Beatty Canyon Ranch in northeast Las Animas County. Earlier this year, his family ranch was awarded the Colorado Leopold Conservation Award, which recognizes agricultural landowners actively committed to a land ethic.

Being stewards of the land is something that has always been important to the Wootens, who have made great progress in conservation methods over the years.

But, as Wooten noted, unfortunately, no amount of innovation can protect farmers from variables like weather.  For the last 20 years, persistent drought situations have affected his cow-calf operation.

“Thankfully, today we do have some tools in place to help deal with these types of weather-related risks. One of the most important tools is an efficient crop insurance program for our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” Wooten said.

On Beatty Canyon Ranch, fourth, fifth and even sixth generations are involved in day-to-day operations, and the family’s ranching history stretches back to when Wooten’s great-grandfather immigrated from Ireland. While this may sound impressive, it is not uncommon among farm families.

“We are doing our part, and I urge Congress to do its part by passing a new Farm Bill with crop insurance intact. It, along with our ongoing conservation efforts, will ensure that farmers and ranchers will have a legacy to pass down to future generations,” Wooten said.

Watch his video story here.

 

Tim Brown

Tim Brown, of Limon, Colorado, is a third-generation farmer. His dad started the farm in 1956. But his father suffered two hailstorms in a row that effectively closed the farm and forced him to work elsewhere.

Brown says he faces some of the same issues today that his family faced when he was growing up, including fluctuating markets, trade issues and, of course, Mother Nature.

“This is the importance of the crop insurance. If we didn’t have the crop insurance, I don’t know what we would do,” Brown said.

Brown noted that many people don’t realize crop insurance only covers a farmer’s costs – at best.

“It just barely covers my cost to put that crop in the ground. Just barely,” he said.

Watch his video story here.

 

Brad Rock

Brad Rock has been farming in Wray, Colorado, for 20 years. His family grows several crops, raises cattle and runs a trucking operation.

“We do it because we love it,” Rock said. “We get to provide a quality product to the consumer that we feel comfortable growing and raising.”

His son, Alex, went to college and came home to help on the farm, particularly on the technology side. His dad says it is his calling.

But Rock notes that one of the current challenges his family farm faces is an increase in input costs, including seed fertilizer, rent, equipment and employee costs.

“If we were not to have crop insurance and we would lose a crop, we don’t have any way to recoup any of our input costs,” Rock said.

This year, Rock’s farm lost nine quarters of ground, including wheat, sunflowers, millet and corn – all in one afternoon storm. A week later, the farm lost another quarter.

“If we didn’t have (crop) insurance, we would be in a world of hurt,” Rock said. “Not only do we depend on that to pay for our expenses, but we have seven other employees that work for us.”

Programs like crop insurance also help keep food prices low for consumers, Rock noted.

Watch his video story here.

 

Our series continues soon in Montana so be sure to check back at cropinsuranceinmystate.org for more great stories to watch and share.

ICYMI: Crop Insurance Helps Preserve Farming for Future Generations

Farming is a unique profession in so many ways. First, it is more like a calling — to be part of God’s gifts here, and a steward of these gifts. To follow a crop from seed to harvest, or to see an animal born and grow to maturity — that’s a lot of the reason we do what we do.

But farming is different from other professions in other ways as well, including the unique risks and unpredictabilities we face every year. Farmers, for example, are always at the mercy of the weather. A 200-bushel corn crop can quickly become a 50-bushel corn crop under the wrong conditions.

In addition, we face a volatile market and never know which way the pendulum is going to swing. Lately, it hasn’t been swinging in our direction.

Thankfully, we have tools like crop insurance that help us manage risks like these. I feel strongly that crop insurance is critical to preserving our farms for future generations. So strongly, in fact, that in addition to being a farmer, I have also served as a crop insurance agent for fellow farmers for nearly two decades.

In my role as a crop insurance agent, I work with growers to help them purchase protection they need whether they are starting a farm, or preparing for their next crop.

For beginning farmers, having this protection is especially important. Many farmers starting out rely on banks for operating loans and these banks often require crop insurance so that farmers can pay back these loans if they have a bad year.

It has been extremely rewarding for me to work with these young farmers and to play a role in helping them not only get started in business, but stay in business despite the numerous challenges farm country has experienced in recent years.

During the severe drought of 2012, for example, our area had terrible crop yields. That year was hard enough on established farmers, but for beginning farmers I know that having crop insurance played an integral role in their survival.

There are a few misconceptions out there about crop insurance, which have become especially widespread during the ongoing Farm Bill negotiations. But let’s be clear: Crop insurance is not a handout.

Farmers purchase crop insurance out of their own pockets. On average, farmers spend $3.5 to $4 billion per year for crop insurance coverage. Last year in Kentucky, farmers collectively paid $57 million for coverage. As is the case with other types of insurance, we must prove that we have met a deductible to be eligible for a payment for a portion of our loss.

Because of the unique risks involved in farming, the federal government also provides support to reduce the cost to farmers. If we didn’t have this federal support, crop insurance would simply not be affordable for most of America’s farmers and ranchers.

Of note, before crop insurance was widely available and efficient like it is today, the cost of natural disasters fell directly on U.S. taxpayers by way of disaster bills. And they took forever to get to the farm.

I am fortunate to be the eighth generation of my family to farm in LaRue County, although I didn’t inherit family farm land. We purchased our farm more than a decade ago, basically starting from scratch. It hasn’t always been easy, but it is our way of life — our calling. Agriculture has always been the backbone of our country, and I would love for one or all three of my children to carry on this tradition.

In order for that to happen, we have to protect crop insurance.

Jeremy Hinton is a farmer and crop insurance agent in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

This op-ed was published in the Herald News (LaRue County, Kentucky)

Farm Bill Conferees Speak out for Crop Insurance

Farm Bill conferees from the House and the Senate got together yesterday for a public meeting, and the 56 legislators in attendance were each given three minutes to discuss their priorities.

In the hours of testimony that followed, not a single negative word about crop insurance was uttered.  But, there were plenty of accolades.

Below is a collection of some of what was said about crop insurance.

 “We can all agree that our farmers should have robust risk management tools, including strong crop insurance assistance and new tools for our dairy farmers who’ve been struggling. … I do not believe these critical programs should be targeted for cuts.”

-Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

 

 “We both start out recognizing that crop insurance is number one, right? So we maintain crop insurance. That’s our number one risk management tool for our farmers on the safety net.”

-Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)

 

 “We’ve protected a strong safety net by maintaining a crop insurance program that will allow producers to stay competitive and be more innovative.”

-Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)

 

 “Farm country needs a multi-year bill that protects crop insurance, tightens the safety net, opens markets, and makes responsible investments in our communities.”

-Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS)

 

The House and Senate bills both maintain “the highest priority of our farmers and that is the maintenance of a good crop insurance program. I heard it at every town hall, every forum, and every conversation with a farmer.”

-Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)

 

“As a member of the House Ag committee, I also understand the necessity of this bill in strengthening several key provisions. This includes protecting crop insurance….”

-Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL)

New Series Documents Crop Insurance’s Importance as Congress Hammers Out Farm Bill

Farmers across the nation spent the dog days of summer praying for more rain, or less rain, harvesting wheat, worrying about failed corn crops and wondering how far commodity prices will drop.

And in Washington, lawmakers spent the hot summer hammering out their differences in the Farm Bill – a critical piece of legislation the agriculture community hopes will pass before fall harvest time.

National Crop Insurance Services set out this summer to document the lives and voices of farmers across America in a new series that debuts today with stories from Kentucky and Indiana. You can watch the stories on NCIS’ new website, cropinsuranceinmystate.org, which also features a host of information about America’s top farm safety net program.

Jeff Coke is one of the farmers NCIS caught up with. He loves growing corn and soybeans on his farm in Owensboro, Kentucky. His love of the land might sound strange to the folks in the big cities.

“We have a tie to the dirt that other people don’t understand,” he said. “You know, I like the smell of fresh dirt. Most people think that’s crazy. I like the smell of fresh cut hay. I like the smell of silage. Manure doesn’t even upset me. That’s the smell, when I was a kid, you always smelled in the spring time.”

Despite his love and care for the land he farms, this year hasn’t been good to Coke. He’s lost a lot of his crop.

“We usually start drilling wheat about the 10th of October,” he said. “We only got to go about five days and then it started raining and it’s been wet ever since until we started planting corn and we’ve been wet off and on even through the corn planting season. I’ve already lost some corn three times.”

Crop insurance will help him recover at least some of what he lost in the corn. It will help him farm another season and deliver the quality food American’s expect at a price they can afford.

“It is a total protection plan for our food supply,” he said. “If you lose your farmers, you lose your food. It’s that simple.”

Across the state line in Boonville, Indiana, Mike Heuring is expecting a decent harvest. He hasn’t had the problems with the wet weather that Coke experienced.

While this harvest is looking up, it wasn’t too long ago that Heuring, who is also a crop insurance agent, faced a massive loss. The drought of 2012 remains the worst he can remember and likely the worst his family has experienced in at least three generations.

“It was so hot,” he said. “In addition to being dry it was very hot. And you could actually smell the corn cooking in the field on some of those afternoons.”

Without insurance, he says he would have had to sell land or equipment, or take out loans on property, to farm another year.

“I don’t know if it would have put me out of business, but it would have been 10 steps backwards,” he said. “It would have been really bad.”

He’s glad to see Congress is keeping crop insurance intact in the Farm Bill instead of limiting it, or making it more expensive, as some opponents of American agriculture have suggested.

“Why not have a safety net where the people that occasionally benefit from it are paying into it,” he said. “It’s not a handout.”

It’s also better than disaster legislation, which in the past has been mired in politics and late to arrive, he said.

“I think it’s much better than an ad hoc disaster type program,” he said. “By the time you would actually get that benefit it’s almost too late anyway. So yeah, I think crop insurance is the best system and obviously the majority of farmers agree based upon the participation rates.”

Lawmakers Stress Importance of Crop Insurance as Farm Bill Moves Forward

As the Farm Bill moves from passage to a conference committee between the House and Senate chambers to reconcile differences, lawmakers have been vocal in their support of crop insurance to our nation’s farmers.

Here is just a small sampling of press statements by several U.S. Senators and Congressmen since the vote:

“I’m proud to advocate for Hoosier farmers through efforts to protect crop insurance, to make sure they have access to credit, and to do all I can to help farmers navigate significant challenges – from depressed commodity prices to chaotic trade markets and unforeseen weather events.” – Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)

“Agriculture and farming are vital to the fabric of our nation, and are an enduring legacy of the great state of Texas. Resources like crop insurance provide farmers with an economic safety net for their efforts to feed and supply their fellow Americans, in good times and bad, and ensure food security for our nation.”  – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

“We worked to ensure that the Senate Farm Bill provides strong crop insurance, improves the countercyclical safety net and provides producers with greater access to capital because good farm policy benefits every American, every day with the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world.” – Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)

“I’m proud of the bipartisan policies the Senate advanced … which protect crop insurance, improve critical trade promotion programs, and expand broadband deployment capabilities in rural America.” – Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)

“The bipartisan Senate Farm Bill is a strong bill for North Dakota, and I fought to include many of the priorities I’ve been hearing from North Dakota farmers and ranchers like protecting and strengthening crop insurance.” – Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

“What our farmers do is crucial to our economy and feeding the world. I’m proud to support their hard work in Congress by fighting to pass another Farm Bill that protects crop insurance and other policies critical to agriculture.” –  Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)

“I spent my life around agriculture policy…It is imperative that we have a strong Farm Bill that provides a credible federal crop insurance program.” – Rep. James Comer (R-UT)

America’s crop insurers appreciate the support of these lawmakers and the many others who stood up for farmers during the Farm Bill debate.

New Study: Farmers Will Buy Less Crop Insurance If It Costs More

In their quest to harm farm policy, critics have long contended that crop insurance is so vital to farmers that changes in premium rates will have no impact on participation.

Such claims may be convenient for special interests hoping to weaken farmers’ most important risk management tool by making it more expensive, but the claims are also incorrect, according to a new peer-reviewed study.

Crop insurance “would likely respond fairly abruptly to large cuts,” explained Dr. Josh Woodard, an associate professor at Cornell University, whose work was recently published in the Journal of Risk and Insurance.

Woodard observed that crop insurance demand is clearly responsive to price, as proven by the uptick in participation following Congressional actions over the years to provide premium support instead of ad hoc disaster payments.  A similar decrease in participation would naturally occur if coverage costs more, he explained.

Results from Woodard’s analysis of the demand for crop insurance on Illinois corn found that participants would purchase lower levels of insurance coverage as premium prices rise.  In fact, some participants may drop out of buy-up coverage altogether, Woodard noted.

“Crop insurance is already expensive for farmers but is necessary to obtain loans to invest in new technologies and conservation activities,” he wrote.  “Significantly cutting this support will not only hinder farmers’ ability to invest in sustainable farm operations, but may push many farmers out insurance and eventually out of business.”

The findings are groundbreaking as past analysis of crop insurance assumed demand to be unresponsive to price, due to a shortcoming in the way past researcher’s estimated demand. Woodard’s methodology corrects for that limitation, which should improve the reliability of future research in the field.

Though the paper does not advocate for or against crop insurance, it notes, “Policy makers should be properly informed by the most applicable and relevant research when seeking to estimate the impacts of policy changes on demand. This is particularly true in light of consideration of prospective rate-making changes in the program.”

The study was published shortly after the House and Senate concluded debate on the 2018 Farm Bill.  Both chambers passed bills that kept crop insurance strong and rebuffed efforts to make the program more expensive by cutting funding, capping benefits, and limiting participation using an arbitrary income means test.

“A lot of farmers simply would not be able to afford their insurance coverage any longer if Congress were to substantially increase premium rates,” Woodard concluded.  “The long run costs of that should be factored into any policy decisions. I think lawmakers, correctly, understand this reality.”

Lawmakers’ support for crop insurance, which has become a cornerstone of U.S. farm policy, is not surprising.  Prior to crop insurance’s rise to prominence, taxpayers were called upon to fully fund ad hoc aid after disasters.  That was both expensive and inefficient.

With crop insurance, farmers pay for a portion of their safety net – collectively between $3.5 and $4 billion a year – so taxpayers don’t shoulder all the risk.  And aid arrives in weeks, not months or years, because private-sector insurers process claims instead of the government.

The program’s popularity has steadily increased as Congress has made investments to make crop insurance more affordable and available for farmers.  In 2017, it protected more than $100 billion worth of agricultural goods on a record 311 million acres of land.

Rural America to U.S. Senate: Do No Harm to Crop Insurance

More than 600 trade organizations and companies throughout rural America sent U.S. Senators a clear message today about crop insurance as they prepare to debate the 2018 Farm Bill.

“As you consider the 2018 Farm Bill on the Senate floor, we urge you to oppose harmful amendments to crop insurance, including those that would 1) reduce or limit participation in crop insurance, 2) make insurance more expensive for farmers during a time of economic downturn in agriculture, or 3) harm private-sector delivery,” the groups wrote in a joint letter.

The signers, which range from farm groups to financial lenders, rural businesses and conservation organizations, explained their strong support for farmers’ primary risk management tool:

Without crop insurance most producers simply could not qualify for the operating loans they need to put a crop in the ground.  Due to extremely tight margins in agriculture, regulators examining agriculture lending portfolios typically insist borrowers have crop insurance.

Crop insurance is available to all types and sizes of producers in all regions.

Crop insurance provides for environmental benefits.  Crop insurance requires producers to meet wetlands protections and highly erodible lands protections to be eligible for a premium discount.

Crop insurance is a rapid response solution to disasters.  Private-sector delivery typically allows farmers who have losses and have met their deductible to receive indemnity payments in less than thirty days, while ad hoc disaster can take months or even years.

Crop insurance protects jobs, both on and off the farm.  Crop insurance enables farmers to rebound quickly after a disaster and allows producers to pay credit obligations and other input expenses, such as fertilizer and farm equipment. 

And, they noted that consumers and taxpayers benefit as well since crop insurance reduces the need for expensive, unbudgeted disaster aid packages.

“Crop insurance is food and fiber security insurance, and food and fiber security is national security,” the letter concluded.  “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 letter can be read in its entirety here.

NCIS Launches Website Highlighting Crop Insurance in All 50 States

The Senate officially begins its Farm Bill process June 13, as the Agriculture Committee debates a draft bipartisan bill released last week by the panel’s top Republican and Democrat.

And thanks to a new website just unveiled by the National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS), Senators and other interested parties won’t have to look very far for information about how crop insurance affects every state in the country.

The new website, Crop Insurance In My State, offers an interactive map that provides visitors with access to state-specific information such as: number of crop insurance policies, acres insured, value of insurance protection, how much farmers paid for coverage, how much insurers paid to cover losses, and hail protection coverage.

In addition to the interactive map, the site includes 50 downloadable and printable fact sheets, as well as farmer testimonial videos and articles from several states. There’s also a dynamic social media feed.

“Crop insurance is a cornerstone to modern-day farm policy, and growers from coast to coast have called it their top Farm Bill priority,” explained Tom Zacharias, president of NCIS.  “This site really shows, on a state-by-state basis, the success of crop insurance and why it’s agriculture’s most important risk management tool.”

The new site pairs with the already established site Crop Insurance In America, which takes a national look at crop insurance and the record 311 million acres it protects.  The Crop Insurance In America site was first introduced 10 years ago, and has since been added to the Library of Congress’ prestigious historical collection.

New Study: ‘Efforts to Limit HPO Would Increase Risks to Farmers’

Just before the U.S. House of Representatives was set to vote on a Farm Bill amendment that would’ve crippled crop insurance, a Kansas State University economist sent key policymakers a note alerting them to a new study that shed light on the negative impact of reducing revenue insurance coverage.

The study he circulated was not produced by Kansas State, but its contents were so timely and so significant, that he felt compelled to help its authors at the University of Illinois spread the word.

That paper, by Illinois professors Gary Schnitkey and Jonathan Coppess, examined how farmers use revenue crop insurance tools like the Harvest Price Option (HPO) to help them forward contract their commodities.

“Recent criticism of crop insurance suggests that amendments could be placed in the Farm Bill to curtail HPO coverage,” the authors wrote.  “As a result, understanding farmers pre-harvest hedging activities is important.”

Very little information existed about how farmers use these kinds of techniques, so Schnitkey and Coppess began their work with a survey of Midwest growers.

“Survey results indicate that farmers use what can be termed prudent hedging strategies prior to harvest for marketing their crops,” the authors explained.  In fact, the survey found that 84% of Midwest farmers hedged a portion of their anticipated crop.

The study succinctly explained how it works:

Pursuant to a forward contract, a farmer agrees to deliver grain to a country elevator or processor at some point in the future, often near harvest time, but based on futures market prices at the time of the contract. This legally-binding contract locks in the price for the delivered grain as a hedge against lower prices at the time of delivery. While advantageous to the farmer in terms of protecting against lower prices, it also comes with risks that prices will increase, often as a result of lower yields for the crop nationally. In extreme situations, a farmer with significant yield losses may not have enough bushels to fulfill the contractual obligations and will need to purchase bushels to make delivery; bushels purchased in such a situation could well be at a higher price than the farmer contracted.

And that’s where HPO comes in.  Farmers pay more for the insurance option. It indemnifies losses at harvest-time prices rather than planting-time prices, enabling farmers to purchase enough commodity off the open market to fulfill their forward contract.

Without access to HPO, as some agricultural opponents are advocating, farmers would reduce pre-harvest hedging, the study found, and introduce even more risk into farming.  This is particularly troubling considering the survey also found that the farmers who most use these techniques also report to obtain the bulk of their families’ incomes from the farm.

“In other words, those impacted the most by this policy change (eliminating HPO) are those who most rely on farming for their family income,” the study concluded.  “Congressional efforts to limit HPO would increase risks to farmers.”

Lawmakers in the House overwhelmingly defeated the amendment designed to harm crop insurance, though it still needs to pass the Farm Bill.  The Senate is slated to begin its Farm Bill deliberations soon, where critics are again expected to attack HPO and other components of farmers’ primary risk management tool.

Farmers in Ohio, Kentucky Advocate for Crop Insurance

A pair of soybean farmers in America’s heartland are urging Congress to leave crop insurance alone as it debates the 2018 Farm Bill with columns published recently in newspapers in both states.

Scott Metzger, who farms with his family at Metzger Family Farms in Williamsport, Ohio, offered his story of decades of heartbreak that came from a single storm in a piece published in the Circleville Herald.

His family has been farming in south central Ohio for six generations, he said in the piece. He is proud of his heritage and knew from a young age he wanted to farm.

“When I was 5, on a July day in 1980, a storm tore through our community in Williamsport,” he wrote. “The things I remember about that day are the memories of a child: My toy tractor blown down the road. The roof ripped off the house. The shop flattened. All of that could be repaired. But in our fields was a disaster that I’ve been dealing with now for my entire adult life.”

The family ended up with crushing debt that year. They had to sell farm land to stay in business. It took 36 years to buy all of it back.

“While the story is sad enough, there’s a tragic piece of irony to add,” Metzger noted. “That year, back in 1980, a man came by the farm selling crop insurance. He was one of the first in our area to offer it. My family declined. We had never needed it before and didn’t see a reason to spend on it then.”

Today, crop insurance is part of the Metzger family farm’s business plan. He said modern and effective products like Harvest Price Option allow his farm to forward contract and not be as concerned if they have a short crop in the summer and need to buy back contracts.

Metzger is on the Ohio Soybean Association Board of Trustees and is a director with the American Soybean Association.

“As Congress debates the Farm Bill, I hope lawmakers will remember my family’s story and continue to support the modern crop insurance farmers have come to rely on,” he concluded.

In Kentucky, farmer Caleb Ragland penned an op-ed that was published in the News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown not far from where he farms.

His family has been farming in Kentucky for nine generations.

“At 31, I’m already a lifer,” he wrote in the piece. “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than growing soybeans, corn and winter wheat and raising pigs in a pretty part of the world.”

But, Ragland explained that the business of farming has been tough in recent years.

Nationally, farm incomes are down 50 percent compared to what they were 5 years ago putting everyone in a financial pinch.

“Grain prices are down,” he said. “So are beef, pork, poultry and milk. Couple all of that with the fact that most of your farmland operations, on any scale, have substantial debt loads, and it’s easy to see how people are struggling in farm country.”

Ragland is optimistic, though. The growing population will mean a good future for farmers if smart policy decisions are made in Washington, he concluded.

And, leaving crop insurance unchanged in the 2018 Farm Bill, including Harvest Price Option, is a smart choice.

“HPO lets us forward market our crops,” he wrote. “It protects revenue, not just yields, offering the equivalent of ‘replacement value’ coverage on a car. And as farmers, we’re willing to pay extra for the protection HPO offers because it gives you the faith you need put your borrowed money in the ground and know you’ll be able to pay it back.”

Ragland’s request of Congress was simple: Don’t fix wasn’t isn’t broken.