CROP INSURANCE IN ACTION: Keith Miller, Great Bend, Kansas

Wheat CropGreat Bend, Kansas, farmer Keith Miller looks at the big picture. Crop insurance, he declared, is not just an agricultural safety net for the farming community. It is an economic imperative.

“I do feel that the general public doesn’t understand that 95 percent of all farmers are trying to do the right thing,” he said. “If we didn’t have crop insurance in some form, the cost of food would go up considerably.”

“Crop insurance was a significant part of our operation,” he said, “even before the drought.”

Kansas, the biggest wheat-producing state in the country, has been ravaged by the worst drought to hit the Great Plains in a quarter century. All 105 counties experienced drought conditions, according to Gov. Sam Brownback as he appealed to residents to conserve water. Loss from the long-running arid condition beginning in 2011 was estimated at more than $2 billion.

Crop insurance has allowed the farmer to survive and get to the next planting season. Said Miller, “For the most part every farmer tries his best to raise a crop so we can feed the hungry people around the U.S. and the world.”

A third-generation farmer, Miller began with 400 acres of wheat farms in the 1970s. Today, he is farming land equivalent to acreage being farmed for a dozen of his father’s neighbors, the survival and expansion made possible by his hardy farming smarts, the grace of the Lord, and his insurance coverage.

“When I started, a tractor was $20,000 new and today they are $300,000 plus,” he said. “Today I am farming land that 12 of my dad’s neighbors were farming.”

His insurance coverage was able to cushion the blow, so to speak, when he experienced a “100 percent loss” from a major late freeze on his wheat crops.

“It froze when the wheat was pollinating and killed the plants,” he explained. He added that he was also covered for hail “and other disasters.”

The Farm Bill is extremely important to preserve a constant supply of safe food for the economy of the U.S., Miller said, echoing what almost every farmer acknowledges as a personal creed.

“If we were to lose the Farm Bill, the family farmer would start going by the wayside because they would not be able to stand all of the risks incurred in the farming industry,” he warned. “It would be the beginning of the end as we know [it for] the family farmers.”