(Indian Wells, California) – “An investment in crop insurance is an investment in America’s economy,” Brandon Willis, the acting administrator to the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, said today at the 2013 crop insurance industry conference. He challenged the group of crop insurers and farm leaders to take that message to the general public, which he said, “benefits greatly from the crop insurance program.”
For example, Willis explained that agriculture is key to our nation’s future and that crop insurance underpins its success.
“If having a food supply is in our nation’s interest…we need the best and brightest to be engaged in agriculture, providing that food for us,” he explained. “Without crop insurance we will not get the best and brightest back on our farms.” The reason, he told the group, is because of the high risk and intensive capital involved in farming. Willis also noted that, thanks to agriculture, “American families pay less for food at the grocery store than people in any other nation.” And the sector is also a major employer, with more than 1 million U.S. jobs tied to agricultural exports alone.
In addition, Willis believes that crop insurance’s success during the historic drought of 2012 should be touted.
“The lack of calls for disaster assistance speaks volumes to the effectiveness of the crop insurance program,” he said, noting that prior to crop insurance’s rise in popularity taxpayers were footing the bill for billions in costly ad hoc disaster programs.
Since the last major drought in 1988, Willis said the amount of insurable farm acreage covered by insurance has risen from 25 percent to 85 percent for corn, soybeans and wheat, 80 percent for rice, and 90 percent for cotton.
Since just 1998, 100 million more acres are enrolled in crop insurance and protects 30 additional crops.