Farmers from across the country testified last week before a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing examining the efficacy of the farm safety net.
While each grower had a unique story to share, a common thread quickly became clear: America’s farmers depend on the Federal crop insurance program.
Read in their own words what crop insurance means to America’s farmers:
“Crop insurance is a vital tool for farmers, and Congress must not do anything to undermine it.” – Wes Shannon, peanut and cotton farmer in Georgia
“Crop insurance is a cornerstone of my operation. Our ability to market our grain, manage our risks and financially survive depends on crop insurance. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are invested in a growing crop that can be wiped out in one weather event. And there are broader impacts on the ag economy. Considering what farmers spend on ag inputs, machinery, equipment, and crop protection, we must be successful for everyone else. That’s why crop insurance is so critical for our entire industry.” – Jeff Kirwan, corn and soybean farmer in Illinois
“Federal crop insurance is an absolute mainstay to rural Minnesota and farm families like mine. If Washington does anything on farm policy, it should first do no harm to crop insurance.” – Rob Tate, farmer, crop insurance agent, and crop revenue consultant in Minnesota
“I view the Federal crop insurance program to be a fundamental element of the safety net that secures the survival of domestic food production, which I consider to be of critical national importance for all Americans.” – Brian Talley, specialty crop farmer in California
These testimonies reflect the key role that crop insurance plays in the farm safety net. More than 1.1 million Federal crop insurance policies provide more than $100 billion in coverage across more than 380 million acres of farmland in all 50 states. It’s available to farmers of all sizes and more than 130 commodities.
Throughout the hearing, the growers shared their personal experiences with crop insurance and outlined the strengths of the Federal crop insurance program.
Unlike ad hoc disaster bills, which can take years before help arrives, crop insurance delivers assistance for covered losses in just days or weeks. That’s because crop insurance is built on a unique private-public partnership that draws on the efficiency of the private sector to quickly assess damages and determine losses when Mother Nature strikes.
The crop insurance program also gives farmers predictable tools to manage their unique risks. Farmers invest in crop insurance before a disaster – sharing in the risk – and they know how the rules of their policy will help them recover.
Rob Tate also testified that as an agent, he’s seen how important crop insurance is not only for established farmers, but also beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers who need to secure credit and manage their risks.
It’s no wonder that when everything is on the line, America’s farmers turn to crop insurance. Congress must continue to strengthen the crop insurance program and preserve this vital part of the farm safety net.