Crop Insurance in Action: Kenneth Kirschenmann, Shafter, California

GrapesShafter, California is home to 17,197 people and Shafter native, Kenneth Kirschenmann, said that farming is what keeps his community economically sound. Listing just a few ways farming helps his community, Kirschenmann said, “We affect chemical companies that employ a lot of people. We affect the railroad who hauls our products to the East Coast (and the) trucking companies that handle our grapes.”

Originally established in 1919 by his grandfather, Kenneth’s family farm has since grown into what is now known as the Kirschenmann Brothers Farming Company. He said the company has expanded to cover almost 1,000 acres and now produces table grapes, potatoes, cotton, almonds and alfalfa. As Kirschenmann gave National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) a tour of his grape vineyard, he reflected on the importance of Mother Nature, as well as crop insurance to keep his harvests growing.

“This is a Mother Nature crop,” Kirschenmann stated. “The good Lord gives us everything we’ve got to do to make the grapes. But we also have some untimely storms, rains, freezes and frost that can destroy these crops. Crop insurance gives us a little safety net. It doesn’t solve all the problems if we had a 100 percent wipeout, but it does keep us in business.”

Kirschenmann’s company employs over 250 individuals throughout the year. All of which take pride in providing consumers with a quality product at the prices they can afford.

“We take endless amounts of joy in our work and day-to-day things to give consumers that table grape, or that cotton plant, or that potato, or that almond,” Kirschenmann said. “All the right things that it takes to get to the consumers’ shelves, wherever the end product is; and the least expensive for them also.”

Ken KirschenmannWhile Kirschenmann enjoys providing consumers with the food and materials he produces, he said that his farming operation, like other farms all over the country, has experienced some untimely weather events.

“Our input costs are high because of the drought in California,” Kirschenmann said. “Labor is getting to be an issue we are dealing with. So we’re trying to fight all the costs and crop insurance is a very economical thing that we look at on a monthly or yearly basis when we do our crop plans and our financial plans.”

Whether the community is experiencing a drought or a frost, crop insurance helps keep the Kirschenmann Brothers Farming Company and other farming operations in the community up and running. Kirschenmann restated that in the end, in order to keep Shafter farming, crop insurance is a must.

“We’ve got to keep a good, strong crop insurance program going,” Kirschenmann concluded. “We need it. We have a great relationship with our crop insurance people. We’ve been through some disasters and the system has worked. I know insurance can’t handle every issue and I’m not asking it to. But rain and frost, those are the things that I buy the insurance for.”