Gutting of crop insurance in farm bill threatens farmers’ survival

Quentin Bowen of Humboldt, Neb., is a farmer who raises corn and soybeans.

As I spend these hot summer days tending to my drought-stressed and dying corn and soybean crops, I am glad I purchased crop insurance.

Whether it’s a flood instantly washing your livelihood down a newly formed river channel, or the blistering sun overcooking your hopes one day at a time, there’s nothing worse than losing a crop and a whole year’s work.

Then again, there’s nothing better than rejoicing in a bountiful harvest, which wouldn’t even have been an option for most growers had crop insurance not helped them pick up the pieces following a disastrous 2011.

Future bumper crops may not be an option for many if some senators are successful in gutting the pending farm bill. That’s because more than a dozen farm bill amendments have been introduced to render private-sector-run crop insurance — our most effective risk management tool — ineffective.

Some amendments would take more money from a program that has already seen $12 billion in funding reductions since 2008, leaving it stressed to a breaking point. Other amendments would cap the discounts farmers get on insurance premiums to make policies obtainable, effectively leaving many mid-size farms and specialty crops without adequate protection from disaster.

The biggest threat comes from a proposal to limit participation in crop insurance through an arbitrary means test, based on your tax filings with…