More than 334 million acres of farmland were protected by crop insurance in 2018, a 20 million acre increase over 2017 and an all-time high. And, crop insurance came in $2 billion under original federal budget projections for the year.
Jim Korin, chairman of National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) and president of NAU Country Insurance Company, noted these accomplishments, among others, in his opening remarks at the crop insurance industry’s annual meeting this week.
With more than 1.1 million crop insurance policies sold to farmers across the nation, Korin credited the growing popularity of crop insurance to the exceptional service provided by private-sector insurers and the unique working relationship they share with the government.
“The public-private partnership that defines crop insurance has been successful in providing the important safety net for our farmers and the rural areas where they live,” Korin said. He noted that the crop insurance industry has been able to quickly pay claims while routinely coming in below budget projections, saving taxpayers billions.
Under the successful crop insurance model, farmers invested in their own protection by paying $3.7 billion in premiums and shouldering a significant portion of losses through deductibles.
This public-private partnership was further reinforced with the overwhelming passage of a bipartisan Farm Bill in December that strengthened crop insurance and firmly rebuffed efforts by some critics to make the program less affordable and available to farmers.
“With everything that occurred during the year, nothing defined the world of agriculture more than the debate and passage of the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Korin. “This process saw congressional field hearings from coast to coast and a steady call from farmers across the nation to ‘do no harm’ to the crop insurance safety net.”
Larry Heitman, chairman of the American Association of Crop Insurers and senior vice president of NAU Country Insurance Company, also addressed the convention and said maintaining this kind of support from farmers will continue to be important moving forward.
“As tempting as it may be to relax until the next Farm Bill negotiations begin again, let’s remember our program is a target for those that want to redirect agricultural funds to their own causes or programs,” he told the group. “We must continue to maintain and strengthen our partnership with agriculture commodity associations and conservation and wildlife protection groups to work together for a coalition to benefit all Americans – rural and urban.”
Heitman and Korin explained that the industry’s attention will now turn to working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure a smooth implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, while continuing to serve rural America.
Korin concluded, “We must remember our purpose: To provide exceptional coverage and service to farmers and ranchers to help them do what they do best…feed and clothe the world.”