Not too far from Capitol Hill in Onancock, Virginia, Lynn Gayle farms soybeans, wheat, and corn. Lynn is acutely aware of the precarious nature of farming and the risk presented by Mother Nature
“We’re one storm event or one drought away from a disaster,” he told us on a recent trip to the field.
That’s why Lynn – and other farmers across the farmland that surrounds our nation’s capital – rely on the safety net provided by crop insurance.
“When I talk to individuals in the non ag community, often I hear them refer negatively regarding crop insurance … but it ensures that American agriculture is stable and not subject to failure due to the perils that agriculture faces. I’m also quick to point out that I have never, ever profited from crop insurance,” he said.
Up in Wicomico County, Maryland, Steve Hurley farms corn, soybeans, wheat, grain, sorghum, and oats. He relies on crop insurance to not only protect his crops from natural events like drought, which impacted his farm during a big drought year in 2002, but also from damage caused by local wildlife.
“The number one thing in this area would be wildlife damage, mainly deer,” he explained. “We definitely need the crop insurance to help us out navigating through these problems with wildlife issues.”
Over in Laurel, Delaware, on a 600-acre farm, first-generation farmer Cory Atkins farms vegetables and grain consisting of corn and soybeans using minimal-to-no-till and cover crop practices. He said one of the hardest parts of farming is “the extremes,” like the severe rain he experienced earlier this year that destroyed half his lima bean crop.
“I want Congress to know that we have to have crop insurance,” he said. “We got to have some way to mitigate that risk to help, you know, set a floor for farmers.”
As shown by these farmers, crop insurance is not a want but rather a need. Temple Rhodes, a farmer in Centerville, Maryland, who grows corn, soybeans, and wheat, sums this up with the following statement: “One of the things that I would probably say to Congress is 99.9% of the farmers out here, we don’t ever want to collect crop insurance.”