CROP INSURANCE IN ACTION: Matt Fisher, Delano, California
Imagine overseeing a multi-generational family farm without crop insurance. When disaster strikes will your farm be able to financially bounce back? This possibility became a reality for one family in Delano, California. And after disaster struck, Matt Fisher said he and his family learned the true value of crop insurance.
“Back in 1990-1991, our family didn’t have crop insurance,” Fisher explained. “And we had a disastrous freeze that wiped out everything we had, and the next year’s crop. We even lost some trees it got so cold. Our family operation almost went broke at that time, but we were able to fight our way back to profitability. And now we buy crop insurance because of that one lesson and experience.”
Today, Fisher’s farm produces a wide variety of citrus, including navels, Valencias, blood oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and lemons. To protect their fruit from the unpredictability of Mother Nature, Fisher said it is vital that they continue to purchase crop insurance year after year to ensure they do not have a repeat of what happened in 1991.
“When I say protection, we’re not getting rich on the crop insurance,” Fisher elaborated. “It’s merely covering our costs and allowing us to get to the next year. So it’s very, very important in what we do.”
Fisher not only has a family of four to worry about feeding, but his operation also employs more than 40 full-time individuals who have families of their own to feed. He added that their farm indirectly, through farm labor contractors and harvest crews, employ another 100-125 individuals to keep their operation up and going.
“That’s not counting the chemical industries,” Fisher stated. “We’re using fertilizers, pesticides to keep the bugs down on the trees, etc. And even the packing houses employ hundreds, if not thousands of people. So if we did not have crop insurance and we were not able to make it and keep going from one year to the next, it would be a major economic hit for the industry. The ag industry as a whole, not just counting the citrus industry.”
Having started out as a small farming operation, Fisher understands the value of farms of all sizes. According to Fisher, their original operation began with just 30 acres and he attributes their expansion to the hard work of four generations.
“We are fortunate enough to grow in volume, to help supply the world with food,” Fisher explained. “And good quality food. If we didn’t have crop insurance, and if it wasn’t as affordable as it is, it drives our costs up and we’re no longer competitive.”
No matter the size of their farm or the products they are growing, Fisher also wants the public to know his family’s operation has not changed the way they conduct their business due to the purchasing of crop insurance. At the end of the day, good farming practices have to be completed and hard work has to be put forth to help feed a growing population.
“Crop insurance strictly protects you from devastation,” Fisher concluded. “And we still have to get up and run our wind machines. We spend a tremendous amount of money on frost protection. We’re running wind machines, running water, (putting forth) labor…we never stop fighting this cold weather because even if you think you’ve lost the battle, in the middle of it, you have to keep going. We are so much better off trying to save our fruit and take it to market than we are just relying on crop insurance.”