News & Media
Many folks might not realize this, but the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill was a turning point in American history, from an agricultural perspective. Largely gone are the days of government support programs like direct payments.
The agriculture economy is struggling. Farm income continues to decline, crop prices are down and inputs continue to rise. The 2015-16 farm year may be a make or break year for many farmers who are ending the year in the red.
Farmers are the engines that drive the economy of rural America, and without a sufficient safety net in place – like crop insurance – that entire equation is at risk.
Additionally, crop insurance is structured in such a way that spreads risk across a large and diverse pool of participants so that the impact of losses from a disaster is minimized. That’s because it is widely available and affordable for producers all across the country regardless of their farm size.
It is important to keep in mind that crop insurance is a risk management tool, not a profit center. Some have charged that farmers would rather collect a crop insurance check than a good harvest. Nothing is further from the truth.
This drought has been historic and is about as stubborn as a drought can be. But farmers are hardworking, honest and smart businessmen and women who have armed themselves with the best tools possible to weather this storm. And crop insurance has ensured that California’s central valley will remain America’s fruit and vegetable garden for generations to come.
This system is hugely important for not only farmers, but also to rural communities and the national economy as a whole. Agriculture accounts for nearly $800 billion in economic activity and supports one out of every 11 jobs in the economy.
If I hadn’t purchased crop insurance that first year I struck out on my own, I would be doing something else other than what I love and do best, which is farming. And me, my wife and kids would be spending the rest of our live paying the bank back for the first production loan I borrowed.
I have experienced three complete freezes that would have put me out of business without insurance. It wouldn’t have been just a matter of not paying my bank loans; it would have been a matter of not paying anybody. My crop insurance policy allowed me to cover at least part of my fixed expenses.
As someone who has spent more than four decades managing a fourth-generation farm and the past 10 years building my family’s crop insurance agency, I believe I have valuable perspective worth sharing regarding how essential today’s federal crop insurance policies are to America’s farmers and consumers.