News & Media
Our policymakers often agree that coverage for natural disasters like wind, hail and drought are critical and appropriate. But the debate often focuses on whether revenue coverage is really needed. I can assure you this product has become a critical tool that is equally as important as the amazing technological advancements that have made our farms the most efficient and productive in the world.
Right now, Washington think tanks are launching an inexplicable attack on crop insurance in an effort to dismantle the program by trying to portray it as a giveaway to farmers and as a tool that only benefits large, established farmers.
Sometimes folks are quick to criticize crop insurance because they don’t realize that, like agriculture, the program touches every state in the nation. It has proven itself to be our most effective risk-management tool.
Unfortunately, some critics of farm policy want to upend the whole system by capping insurance discounts or even excluding larger — and less risky — farms altogether. It makes for an easy talking point, but it would carry unintended consequences. By removing your most established farms, and all the acreage associated with those farms, you are doing the same thing as excluding the healthiest people from life insurance.
When it comes to obtaining credit, the vast majority of crop loans incorporate crop insurance in their operation plans, and coverage is a requirement for many loans. Without it, credit would be limited to those with the strongest balance sheets. Given the recent price trends and outlook for commodity prices, there just aren’t many farmers who fall into this category.
Crop insurance is something you hope you never have to use. It doesn’t pay for the total cost of planting a crop of wheat. But it will keep farmers in business for the next season – and that’s the whole point of a safety net.
I’ve seen this firsthand in the drought of 2005 and the violent hail storms in 2014 that brought moderate to severe damage to 16 out of 18 of our fields. I didn’t make any money those years, but I also didn’t go out of business.
As we begin negotiations around a new Farm Bill, I for one will be an outspoken advocate for crop insurance. It is not just an “insurance policy” for farmers, but also an “insurance policy” against disruption and financial instability in the food production sector, which could have widespread negative repercussions affecting every American. I encourage anyone who prioritizes a safe, stable, affordable food supply to join me.
Crop insurance treats all farmers equally, regardless of operation, size, region, or crop. For Maine farmers, in particular, it is crucial that we protect this safety net that does not discriminate.
The Farm Bill and crop insurance will not make our farmers and ranchers anywhere near whole from their heavy losses. But these policies will help hard working families – who feed, clothe and increasingly fuel us in a manner unrivaled in history – to repay their loans and secure financing for the coming year.