Crop insurers and farmers have shouldered their share of challenges in recent years, ranging from an historic drought to lower-than-expected financial returns, legislative debates, and implementing a new Farm Bill.
But Tim Weber, chairman of the American Association of Crop Insurers and National Crop Insurance Services, said today that those challenges have only strengthened crop insurance providers and better equipped them for the future.
“I believe crop insurance is stronger today for the obstacles it has faced in recent years and most importantly, it is ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges,” he told colleagues at the industry’s annual conference.
Weber, who is coming to the end of his term as chairman, used his remarks to reflect back on lessons learned during pivotal years within the industry – a time, he said, when teamwork and building alliances was emphasized.
“Overall, I am very proud of what we have accomplished,” he said. “These accomplishments were the result of a hard-working, talented workforce that was willing to work together as [insurance providers], agents, adjusters, and industry allies to overcome attempts to weaken our farmers’ and ranchers’ most important risk management tool.”
Weber noted that, despite crop insurance’s past successes and its popularity with farmers, agriculture’s opponents will continue to criticize the farm safety net. He pointed to the recent Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which sought to cut $300 million a year from crop insurance, as proof of that criticism and how rural America must counter it.
“Farmers from across the country came to our defense…as did the agent force, the lending community, input providers, Main Street businesses, the conservation world, and leading voices from academia,” he explained. “Notwithstanding this level of support…we would never have won this battle if not for the leadership of key lawmakers who were not bashful about standing up for agriculture.”
Weber urged the group to remain vigilant moving forward by focusing on industry cooperation and collaboration with third-party allies. He also urged insurers to invest time and resources in the political process as a way to blunt future critiques.
“We need all Members of Congress to hear directly from their constituents regarding the importance of maintaining an effective crop insurance program,” he concluded. “After all, every person in this country benefits from a dynamic, financially healthy agricultural industry. Not only does it provide a dependable supply of domestically grown food, fuel, and fiber, but it also supports economic and job growth.”