Critics who said that farmers who purchased crop insurance were “praying for drought, not praying for rain” or were “laughing all the way to the bank” during last summer’s historic drought were strongly rebuked by farmers, crop insurance agents and claims adjusters in a new video released by National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS).
Marvin Andris, a farmer from Milford, Illinois, responded to Environmental Working Group’s accusations, noting that their comments underscored how little they know about farmers. “They obviously haven’t brushed shoulders with any farmer,” he said. Andris said he didn’t know a single farmer who farmed for an insurance check. “We’re into this because we want to raise crops, and the more bountiful, the more excited we become,” he said.
“I certainly don’t see anybody, as far as I know, that is seriously farming looking for a drought, and looking for a crop insurance check,” said Ben Hanawa, a field claims adjuster from San Benito, Texas. He explained that crop insurance can help you make it through a bad year, “but it certainly is no way to make a living.”
David Finch, a claims adjuster from Tulia, Texas, noted that charges that farmers are happy to incur losses demonstrated both a misunderstanding of the nature of farmers and how crop insurance works. “I’ve never heard of anybody or talked or visited with any farmer who would rather have an insurance check than he would have a good crop that he could bank on his own,” he said. “It’s a matter of pride.”
Robert Geddes, a farmer from Hoopeston, Illinois, explained that crop insurance is not any different than other forms of insurance that consumers buy on a daily basis, like homeowner’s insurance or car insurance. “You don’t buy insurance on your car with idea of going out and having a wreck,” he said. “It’s to take care of [you], when things truly go against you.”
Todd Harris, an insurance agent from Rossville, Illinois, explained that most of the farmers in that part of the state have never had a claim of this nature. “All you got to do is be a mathematician, really, to figure out if you’d be better with a claim, or a crop,” he said. Harris noted “if you ask that question of a farmer, they’ll laugh at you.” That’s because farmers make far more from a good crop than an insurance claim, he explained.
These were not the only misrepresentations farm policy critics made during last year’s historic drought. Claims were made that indemnity payments for the drought would range from $30 billion to $40 billion. The Congressional Budget Office noted earlier this month that 2012 indemnity payments will be closer to $16 billion.
Those same critics also led people to believe that taxpayers would be responsible for nearly all crop insurance payments to farmers, which is another fallacy. Final program costs will reflect the $4.1 billion in premiums farmers paid to purchase insurance policies, losses by private crop insurance companies, as well as government investment.