Former USDA Chief Economist Discusses 40-Year Career, Farm Policy in New Videos
Renowned agricultural economist Dr. Keith Collins reflects on his distinguished career and the future of farm policy in a series of videos released recently by National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS).
Collins spent 32 years in federal service, where he served as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) chief economist to four secretaries of agriculture and as chairman of the board of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation for seven years. After leaving USDA in 2008, he became a consultant to NCIS.
Collins recorded the three videos as one of his last projects before he officially retired from NCIS on March 31. The videos attest to Collins’ nearly 40 years of farm policy experience, during which time he was a witness at 80 congressional hearings; received five Presidential Rank Awards for Distinguished or Meritorious Executive and was elected a fellow of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association. “I have had the best of all possible careers over that period of time,” he said. “I owe a great deal of gratitude to the American farmer for what they have done, for the food that they produced, the way they produced it.”
Collins urged new administrations and members of Congress to recall the farm policies of the past and why decisions were made to make crop insurance the centerpiece of today’s farm safety net. “Look at the program that we have today, look at where it came from, look at how it evolved, how it emerged as the best of many different programs that were tried over the years,” he said. “And the success of the program has hinged on it being available to producers widely across America, being affordable for producers large and small, and having a private-sector [component] that is financially viable.”
Collins concluded saying, “Looking to the future, we want to prevent anything that would undo the success of this program.”
- The first video is Collins’ testimonial, chronicling why Congress turned to crop insurance as the foundation of the farm safety net, and it is available here.
- The second video tracks farm policy’s journey from complete government control to being more market oriented and driven by the private sector. It can be viewed here.
- Finally, Collins discusses why affordability, availability and viability of crop insurance are so crucial in the third recording, which can be seen here.