No. In the context of overall Federal spending, monies spent on farm policy are small indeed. In fact, about one-half of one percent of the Federal budget is spent on all farm programs. And for this modest investment, taxpayers ensure the world’s most abundant, affordable and safe food supply while simultaneously strengthening the rural economy.
It is important to recognize that while crop insurance costs have increased over time as market prices and program participation have risen, government spending on farm safety net programs has trended down over the past decade. In addition, following the anomalous disaster year of 2012, a year when a large increase in program costs should be expected, a return to more normal yields and lower market prices reduced crop insurance expenditures.
Prior to the emergence of crop insurance, natural disasters like the floods of 2011 along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and elsewhere or the 2012 drought would have triggered large, expensive ad hoc disaster bills in Congress. Forty-two such bills have cost taxpayers $70 billion since 1989, according to the Congressional Research Service. Crop insurance has all but eliminated the need for those bills.
Crop insurance costs are further controlled because farmers pay almost $4 billion in premiums every year and shoulder deductibles when losses occur. Meanwhile, private insurers help minimize taxpayer risk exposure by absorbing a portion of the losses following disasters. For example, private insurers lost $1.3 billion after the 2012 drought.
It should also be noted that crop insurance expenditures have fallen well below CBO budget estimates since the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law. In fact, actual crop insurance total government costs as reported by RMA $657 million less than baseline expectations for crop year 2014 and $2.045 billion less in 2015.