EWG Study A Reckless Attack on Farmers’ Best Risk Management Tool

(OVERLAND PARK, Kan.) — “The Environmental Working Group has an unprecedented track record of promoting and funding misleading and flawed analysis, as well as mischaracterizing data to generate news headlines. Its latest attack on farmers’ most important risk management tool is no different. For example:

  • EWG seems to be criticizing government support of crop insurance. Yet, EWG fails to mention that it is promoting a plan on Capitol Hill to provide farmers with 100 percent subsidized crop insurance coverage administered by the government instead of efficient private insurers.
  • The same fruit and vegetable growers EWG supposedly champions are likely some of the largest crop insurance benefit recipients on its list of ‘offenders.’
  • EWG fails to account for the fact that these ‘subsidies’ are premium discounts that are accounting transactions that take place within the USDA. There are no government subsidy checks to farmers. Unless indemnities are paid to a farmer, there is no outlay on that famer’s policy. Even when there is a loss, taxpayer cost is minimized by government underwriting gains on other policies, which is why CBO estimates for crop insurance have historically been so much higher than actual costs.

“Only telling part of the story is nothing new for EWG when it comes to agriculture. Its controversial database of direct and counter cyclical payments quietly combines multiple years, and in many cases multiple farmers, to distort the facts. Ironically, many of the ‘rich and famous’ subsidy recipients EWG has used in the past to make news headlines about farm program payments receive only conservation subsidy payments that EWG supports.

“Crop insurance is extremely popular with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, as well as with farmers, their lenders, and nearly everyone with a stake in rural America. That is because crop insurance gives producers a fighting chance after disaster strikes or markets collapse. After recent reductions in farm policies, it is the single most important risk management tool remaining for U.S. farmers and ranchers.

“One must question the motive of EWG. Is it to leave America’s farmers and ranchers without the ability to survive and successfully manage agricultural disasters?”