Diane McDonald has spent most of her life farming in North Dakota and she’s loved every minute of it. But Diane knows that farming can be a very risky business.
“There are many steps that farmers can take to manage risk, like growing a wide variety of crops, rotating crops and growing cover crops to prevent erosion, and we do all of that,” she said. “But let’s face it, when we get an early August freeze, or a spring flood, or a drought, just about all of the best farming practices in the world will fail to protect us,” she added.
“And that is why I, like most farmers across the state, always purchase crop insurance.”
Diane farms about 1,700 acres with her husband in North Dakota’s Red River Valley. She’s a realist when it comes to business, and knows that the days of the government bailing out farmers after a big natural disaster are over.
“With the passage of the new Farm Bill, farmers must realize that the government is no longer going to come along with an ad hoc disaster bill and bail us out,” she said. “The new Farm Bill is something we should all applaud, since it was hard fought and will provide some degree of certainty to America’s farmers,” she added.
When she’s not farming, Diane is the National Media Chairperson for Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE). In that position, she hears from women farmers from across the country that have all praised crop insurance.
“Last spring, we had 18 inches of rain in 21 days, and half of our crops were in the ground already,” she noted. And when the rain finally finished, farmers couldn’t get back in their fields.
“We were facing steep losses, since rent is due and other costs had already been incurred, like fertilizer already on the fields,” she said. “The crop insurance indemnity check for prevented planting helped cover the rent on the land and the lost fertilizer,” she said. “We didn’t make a dime but it covered a lot of the cost.”
McDonald says that they always purchase crop insurance, which is not a small expenditure, costing somewhere north of $40,000 a year. And they seldom collect an indemnity.
“North Dakota has had its share of natural disasters during my tenure, from August frosts that killed entire corn crops to floods and droughts,” she said. “You name it.”
“All it takes is one big hail event and the farm is lost,” she noted. “And that, my friend, is why we always buy crop insurance.”