The Swanson family has been rooted in Wapello County, Iowa for over 170 years. Don Swanson and his brother, Bill, grew up watching their fathers work the land. “It’s just a passion that we grew up with,” Don said.
It’s a passion that Don and Bill hope to pass along to their children and grandchildren.
But modern-day farming is more than the inherent satisfaction that comes from harvesting a crop planted from seed or raising the next generation of livestock.
“I wish I had time to do what lay persons consider farming – driving the tractor, feeding the cows,” Don laments. “It’s a full time job for me just managing the books, managing the risk, forward planning and strategic planning.”
National Crop Insurance Services has traveled across the country to talk to farmers and agriculture lenders on the ground to learn what crop insurance means to their farms, families, and communities. For the Swanson family, they would be left vulnerable without the safety net that crop insurance provides.
“Crop insurance protects that bottom line… It’s by far the best government program we have, hands down,” Don said.
Another multi-generation Iowa farmer, Dustin Johnson, enjoys being able to share the rewards of his labor with his children and expose them to the first-hand educational experiences that a working farm provides.
“In a world where technology has kind of taken over, it’s still nice to be able to bring the kids out, ride around in the tractor, get to see first-hand what Dad does every day,” he noted.
When Dustin started farming, the amount of capital required for essential items was daunting. Especially when his income relied not only on his hard work, but the hazards of unpredictable weather, and market fluctuations.
“The risks go way beyond anything that I can control,” Dustin explained. “Which is a really good thing to have crop insurance for.”
Crop insurance gives Dustin the peace of knowing that even in a down year, “we’re still going to have a safety there that we’re going to be able to farm next year.”
For many Iowa towns, agriculture is not only an integral part of the community but also critical to their economic success.
Erica Wuthrich from Bloomfield, Iowa, explains, “The majority of the families around here are farmers… if we didn’t have the farming operations around here, it wouldn’t be good – it would be awful.”
As young farmers, Erica and her husband, Brent, rely on the stability that crop insurance provides in order to keep their farm running. “We don’t make money from it, but it helps us sustain our operation,” Erica said.
Another young Iowa farmer, Colin Johnson, echoes this sentiment, “A component like crop insurance and the assistance that we get, as a young farmer, that helps me know I can continue farming another year. I have been farming for nine years on my own, and… I probably wouldn’t have lasted two years without my crop insurance support.”
Iowa farmers know first-hand that farming does not mean an easy harvest or quick profit. Jared Lyle, Senior Vice President and Senior Loan Officer for Iowa State Bank and Trust in Fairfield, stresses to his agriculture customers the importance of protecting their farms by purchasing crop insurance.
“It’s more a matter of a safety net to keep them from not losing quite as much money and keeping them in business,” Jared explains.
Weakening the public-private partnership of federal crop insurance would be detrimental to the Iowa families that Iowa State Bank and Trust serves.
“There will be less farmers in business for sure, if they lose that safety net,” Jared said. “Ag is very important. I would hate to see anybody underestimate that.”