Every day, farmers spend long hours working the land and caring for livestock so they can provide high-quality food at an affordable price for all Americans across the nation.
This amazing feat would not be possible, however, without the critical safety net that crop insurance provides.
Farming presents a unique set of risks and a farmer’s financial well-being relies on factors as unpredictable and varied as changes in weather, the spread of disease, or the rapid fluctuation of market conditions.
With such a wide variety of potential risks and the likelihood that any particular event is geographically concentrated – an entire county could see their growing season ruined within mere moments by a tornado or freeze – the traditional private industry insurance model simply would not work for crop insurance.
The government developed the public-private partnership of federal crop insurance in order to protect and support farmers and thereby helping to stabilize the economies of the rural communities that rely on agriculture, without leaving taxpayers solely on the hook financially.
Under this successful model, farmers contract with any one of the 15 private insurance companies authorized to sell crop insurance by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, paying a premium in order to protect their crops. These insurance companies, or Approved Insurance Providers (AIP), work hand-in-hand with the federal government to help manage costs that would otherwise make coverage unattainable for the average farmer.
While the government sets rates and rules for the plans that can be sold and provides program oversight, it is the responsibility of the AIPs to write policies, as well as adjust and process claims. That means when disaster strikes, private industry can react quickly to assess damages and issue payments due, providing farmers and the communities who rely on their income with relative stability.
This public-private partnership requires farmers, private insurance companies, and the federal government to share the burden of risk and incentivizes private companies to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse.
Today, federal crop insurance protects more than 130 types of crops covering more than 330 million acres in all 50 states. So, from clams to cranberries, soybeans to sunflowers, our farmers can rest a bit easier knowing that this safety net exists.
And while farms and agriculture-related industries add over $900 billion annually to the American economy and create work for 21 million Americans, the cost for federal crop insurance represents just one quarter of one percent of the federal budget.
This seems like a worthwhile investment to ensure our farmers can continue providing food and fiber for our nation.