CROP INSURANCE IN ACTION: Klodette and Rich Stroh, Powell, Wyoming

Klodette Stroh isn’t your typical Wyoming farm girl.

Klodette Stroh individual photoKlodette is an Assyrian, born in Teheran, Iran, who came to the U.S. to attend college with the goal of becoming a physician and instead wound up falling in love with Wyoming farmer, Rick Stroh.

The couple began farming together in 1989, first purchasing some equipment and leasing land, all while hoping to one day own a farm of their own. After years of hard work, the couple finally achieved a hard-fought dream and purchased their own farmland. Today, the couple, and their two sons Rick and Paul, farm nearly 1,800 acres of malt barley, wheat, varieties of dry edible beans, corn and hay, near Powell, Wyoming. They also tend to more than 50 head of cattle.

While things on their farm and in their lives have changed, one thing has always stayed the same: The Strohs have always purchased crop insurance. “We buy crop insurance mainly to safeguard from bad weather,” said Klodette Stroh. “Last year we had four major hail storms in a row,” said Stroh.

Stroh noted that although crop insurance is a yearly expense that isn’t easy on the pocketbook, they seldom have had a claim. Until 2013, that is.

“Last year was one of the worst year we have ever faced,” she noted. “After four back-to-back hail storms, the leaves of the dry edible bean plants were shattered, as were the sugar beets,” she said. “It was a real catastrophe throughout this part of the state and farmers were hurting.”

Thankfully, most of Wyoming’s cropland farmers purchase crop insurance, which last year protected roughly 90 percent of planted cropland in the U.S. “We made our first claim on our crop insurance policy last year and I hope we never make another claim,” she said. “But if we need to rely on our crop insurance again, it’s nice to know that the policy will be there to help us get back on our feet,” she said.

Stroh said that in addition to offering farmers some peace of mind, purchasing crop insurance is also something that bankers prefer. “Bankers like to know that if you lose everything, something will be coming back to them,” she said.

“Most of the farmers around here purchase crop insurance as part of their basic risk management plans,” she explained. Stroh noted that farmers pushed hard for crop insurance to become the centerpiece of farm risk management in the 2014 Farm Bill. “It just makes good sense for farmers to purchase the protection they need,” she said.

Stroh also noted that the Farm Bill should be called the People’s bill. “That’s really what is it, because it not only helps farmers, but it feeds our children, feeds the poor and keeps the nation running,” she added, “since farmers not only raise food, but fiber and fuel for the nation and the world.”

Stroh Dad and sonsStroh noted that it is important that crop insurance remains universally available, affordable and viable for farmers. “Farmers are major economic drivers of our economy, and crop insurance ensures that if disaster strikes, they have a clear pathway to recovery.”

“The cost of farming is so high that if we don’t have some kind of backstop — like crop insurance — it would be impossible for many of us to get back on our feet after disaster strikes,” she added.

“I don’t want our country to ever need to import our food from other countries. That will cost us our independence,” she said.