USDA’s under secretary for Farm and Foreign Ag Services, Michael Scuse, openly admits he didn’t always buy crop insurance on his Delaware farm back in the 1980s and 90s. But today, he wouldn’t consider farming without it.
“Back in the 1980s and 90s, you couldn’t give me crop insurance. It didn’t work on my farm,” said Scuse during a recent meeting with participants of the Illinois Farm Bureau Marketers trip to Washington that appeared in Farm Week Now.
Scuse noted that “since (USDA) changed the program and developed revenue (protection) products, I wouldn’t dream of farming without it.”
Of course, in response to producer demands and the 2014 Farm Bill, new crop insurance products are being tested to come on the market nearly every year and USDA continues to refine crop insurance programs through the Risk Management Agency (RMA). ”We continue to get requests to include more crops and to make it more user-friendly,” he said.
Given the increased volatility of the weather that we’ve seen over the last decade, those new products will be critical for farmers and ranchers alike. With input costs rising, crop prices falling and the elimination of direct payments to farmers, crop insurance is by far the most important risk management tool in virtually any farmers’ tool belt.
RMA Associate Administrator Tim Gannon told the group that the crop insurance program has come under public scrutiny in recent years as the Federal government looks to control spending. That is why farmers need to defend the program and ensure that consumers and members of Congress understand why crop insurance is critical to the overall well being of America’s rural sector. “Your ability to tell the story of what crop insurance represents will be critical,” he said.
Gannon pointed out that crop insurance saved many farmers after the drought of 2012. “It’s not just a handout,” he noted.
Illinois farmer Martin Andris explained in a 2012 interview during the heart of the historic drought that in the past when drought stuck the area, he wasn’t protected by crop insurance. “Those recoveries were tough. When you struggle to have a crop in a given year, then you’re taking two to three years to recover…” he said. “My goodness, it is so much easier to sleep at night when you have the protection of insurance,” he added.