A year after the farm bill was enacted the debate over crop insurance is brewing again. As cost estimates grow for the 2014 farm bill’s commodity program, several members of Congress are calling for program cuts.
These congressmen seem to have forgotten that while the farm bill was being debated in 2012, Illinois was at the center of the most devastating drought in recent memory. The only saving grace — for not only farmers, but also for taxpayers — was high participation levels in the crop insurance program. Having purchased crop insurance enabled [Illinois] farmers to survive the $5 billion disaster.
What’s more, following the drought, there wasn’t a single request for ad hoc disaster assistance. Crop insurance indemnities helped Illinois farmers cover a portion of their losses, pay their bills and get a crop in the ground the following spring.
The 2014 farm bill places even greater emphasis on risk management. And just so everyone understands, with crop insurance farmers don’t receive a check, they write a check. In fact, farmers spend about $4 billion each year for crop insurance coverage from private companies with no expectation of anything but a favorable growing season.
We had a chance to change crop insurance during the farm bill debate. And we did change it. For the better.
Now, let’s give crop insurance a chance to work.
Keith Mussman, is president of the Kankakee (Illinois) County Farm Bureau. This op-ed appeared in the Kankakee Daily Journal on March 18, 2015.