Passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, which cemented crop insurance as the cornerstone of farm policy, proved that crop insurance’s popularity among farmers has reached an all-time high, said Tim Weber, co-chairman of the American Association of Crop Insurers and National Crop Insurance Services.
“If I had to sum up the story of the crop insurance industry in one simple statement, I think it would have to be ‘We’ve made a lot progress but our best years remain ahead of us,’” Weber said today during his opening remarks at the annual conference sponsored by National Crop Insurance Services and the American Association of Crop Insurers in February.
Since its inception in 1938, crop insurance has steadily evolved and today protects 90 percent of planted cropland in America. The industry won widespread praise in agricultural circles and on Capitol Hill for helping rural America quickly rebound after the devastating droughts of 2012.
“There can be no question that when it comes to managing the risks posed by Mother Nature or volatile world markets, federal crop insurance has no equal,” he said, adding “it has reached its pinnacle, all while overall federal spending on farm programs has trended down.”
Weber explained that in order to continue to build on past successes, the industry should rely on the same three keys that helped its rise to prominence: Affordability, availability and viability.
In order for crop insurance to remain viable as farmers’ primary risk management tool, the crop insurance infrastructure must remain financially strong, he said. Additionally, customer service, program integrity, and widespread participation will be paramount. And unless crop insurance remains affordable and available to all, Weber believes the entire system could collapse.
Crop insurers faced attempts to reduce program participation during the Farm Bill, but proposals to cap crop insurance benefits and force some farmers to pay higher premiums failed.
“We applaud our congressional leaders for overwhelmingly passing a Farm Bill that strengthens, not weakens, our commitment to crop insurance even in the face of federal spending pressure,” Weber concluded. “I truly believe that 10 years down the road, when we look back at the 2014 Farm Bill, it will be elevated to one of the major legislative initiatives that established landmark developments for crop insurance and production agriculture.”