Responding to Drought: Crop Insurance’s Proven Track Record
As America’s farmers and ranchers face severe drought conditions, we’ve been reflecting on the historic drought that swept across American farmland in 2012. That disaster showed just how efficiently the Federal crop insurance program can deliver aid when everything is on the line for America’s farmers.
Former USDA Under Secretary Michael Scuse commended the crop insurance industry for its response to the 2012 drought saying, “To this day, I have yet to have a single producer call me with a complaint about crop insurance. That is a testament to just how well your agents, your adjusters, the companies, and the Risk Management Agency (RMA) worked together in one of the worst droughts in the history of this nation.”
Crop insurance stepped up then to provide timely claims service and indemnity payments to keep America growing, and we are once again ready to provide critical relief to our producers.
Over the past decade, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have continued to strengthen the successful public-private partnership that defines the Federal crop insurance program. Farmers have come to count on the efficiency of the private sector, and crop insurance companies are continually making additional investments to process claims quickly and accurately.
As a result, more and more farmers have turned to crop insurance to help manage their risks. As the cornerstone of the farm safety net, crop insurance currently insures more than 440 million acres of American farmland. That’s over 157 million more acres protected by crop insurance when compared to the acres covered during the 2012 drought.
However, each of these acres is not affected equally by current drought conditions. While the 2012 drought was widespread across much of the country – affecting approximately 85 percent of corn production – the current drought is much more severe in the West and northern Plains. Fifteen states in the West, High Plains, and portions of the Midwest are experiencing extreme and/or exceptional drought.
“This is definitely the worst crop year we have had since we started farming 35 years ago,” Washington wheat farmer Marci Green recently told ABC News. “Years like this are the reason we have crop insurance.”
No matter where the damage happens, private-sector crop insurance companies are ready to deploy loss adjustment teams, determine losses, and quickly pay claims to growers. In fact, crop insurance adjusters have already been out in the fields for months, appraising crops and educating farmers on the specifics of their individual crop insurance policy.
One of the key strengths of crop insurance is that farmers share in the risk – and the cost – of crop insurance. That means American taxpayers will not be left 100 percent on the hook for the cost of the drought.
Farmers pay insurance premiums to purchase coverage before disaster strikes and, like other lines of insurance, shoulder a portion of losses through their deductible. Private crop insurance companies take on losses as well.
The Federal government plays a role, too. In 2012, the government fulfilled its role as a reinsurer under the terms of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement and stepped in to share in the severe and catastrophic losses.
Each component of the Federal crop insurance program worked together in 2012 to help American agriculture survive in the face of overwhelming disaster.
Now, as America’s farmers and ranchers face yet another historic drought, crop insurance is again working to help farmers on the road to recovery. The Federal crop insurance program has a proven track record of delivering for farmers and ranchers in challenging times, and we will continue to meet that call.