OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Opponents of agriculture recently gathered in Washington, D.C., to strategize for ways to dismantle farm policies in the upcoming Farm Bill.
Crop insurance was among their targets – specifically making insurance protection less affordable and available to farmers, and less economically viable for the private sector to deliver.
Many agriculture groups, including the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), cried foul, calling the farm policy critic summit short-sighted and ultimately harmful the farming community and a struggling rural economy.
David Schemm, NAWG’s president and Kansas farmer, said that critics fail to consider challenges unique to agriculture, including lower rates of return and weather-related risks.
In addition, American farmers also compete with foreign countries that use trade-distorting support programs that violate their World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments.
“Rural America and farming families are experiencing some of the worst economic hardships in decades. Now isn’t the time to implement policies that harm these families and stump economic growth,” Schemm said.
Ben Adams, a farmer and president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG), also weighed in. He explained that farmers pay premiums into the program each year with the hope of not collecting an indemnity.
“It is very misleading to consider federal crop insurance a hand-out when its purpose is to provide a risk management tool when unforeseeable conditions arise,” Adams said.
Adams noted that recently eastern Washington farmers have experienced weather conditions that have greatly harmed their bottom lines.
“Crop insurance does not generate excess income, but rather it aids in recovering some of the loss so that we might be able to farm another year,” Adams said.
The wheat groups called on Congress to “ignore the rhetoric” of farm critics during the 2018 Farm Bill debate and to continue working with farmers during the process.
“In order to provide a safe, abundant and affordable food supply, farmers across the country need a strong safety net. And that includes federal crop insurance,” the groups concluded.
— National Crop Insurance Services