Crop Insurance Helps Pennsylvania Farmer Manage Risk

National Crop Insurance Services recently visited the Grove City, Pennsylvania, farm of John Ligo to discuss how the farm safety net has helped protect his farm against risk. A farmer by choice, Ligo worked in the financial industry before he and his wife purchased their farm in 1988. Now, they produce farm-to-table beef, raising approximately 600 cattle and growing about 400 acres of corn alongside 600 acres of grass and rangeland.

Ligo recently published an op-ed in the Pennsylvania publication Lancaster Farming praising the Federal crop insurance program, an excerpt of which is below:

I’m a farmer because it gives me a chance to shape the land. I can shape my business and my reputation and build my ethic to that picture in my mind of how things should be.

 I don’t know what else I could do besides farming to create that. It’s not always easy, and it’s full of risks, but I love it.

 The risk in farming is part of the landscape. It comes with the job.

 Some risks are controllable, and some are not. We always have risks of health, for the farmer and the livestock. We have risks in weather, which can somewhat be mitigated by our practices, and sometimes not.

 One of those things we can do to manage crop production risks is crop insurance. Crop insurance allows me to expect at least a bottom-line income.

 Last year we had 40 inches of rain here. By June 10, I was short a hundred acres of what I intended to plant. Crop insurance helped me with that.

 There have been years when the sunshine just didn’t bring it to us, and crop yields were low. Crop insurance helped me then, too.

 There are years, occasionally, when we have a drought and grass production is just not what it should be, and feed is hard to buy. A pasture rangeland forage policy through crop insurance helped me during the droughts and I was able to continue doing what I am doing.

 I know my risks are at least covered to a certain extent with crop insurance.

Ligo concluded his op-ed by thanking Congress for expanding crop insurance in the 2018 Farm Bill and calling on lawmakers to ensure crop insurance remains affordable and widely available in future policy debates. Because without crop insurance, farmers like John Ligo would be unable to provide America with the safe, affordable and high-quality products that feed our nation.

Pennsylvania Farmers Consider Crop Insurance a Must-Have Tool

Brian Campbell always knew he wanted to be a farmer. He started a produce stand when he was just 14 years old. Now, his Pennsylvania farm produces mostly vegetables, including broccoli, sweet corn, lettuce and pumpkins.

But weather can be unpredictable in the Northeast, and his farm has seen challenges. In 2011, a severe flood wiped out approximately 50 percent of his expected revenue for that year. Banks no longer wanted to do business with him and he had to dig deep to recover.

Thankfully, the introduction of the Whole Farm Revenue Protection program with the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill allowed Campbell to adequately insure his diverse crops against risk.

National Crop Insurance Services visited Brian Campbell Farms as part of our mission to tell the first-hand stories of the farmers and ranchers who rely on the safety net provided by the federal crop insurance program.

Campbell credits crop insurance for his growing success, saying, “If it wasn’t for whole farm revenue protection today, you know, I may not be at the size that I am.”

And he’s always looking forward to the next year, “I love what I do. It’s a passion. I really enjoy it.”

For family farmer Dave Clark, farming is also a passion that he just couldn’t shake. He briefly tried working off the farm but returned to his roots in 2001 when he and his wife purchased the family farm in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

“I always say it’s in your blood. I love farming,” Clark says.

Clark considers crop insurance a must-have business tool. He relies on crop insurance to help protect his farm against the inherent risks that come with putting your faith in weather to grow your crops and a favorable market in which to sell them.

As John Ligo says, “Risk in farming is part of the landscape. The risks that we face, some are controllable, and some are not.” But he emphasizes that one way to help mitigate these risks is to purchase crop insurance.

His farm in Grove City, Pennsylvania is home to approximately 600 head of cattle and he grows about 400 acres of corn alongside 600 acres of grass and rangeland.

Last year, Ligo’s farm saw 40 inches of rain and by early June he was short 100 acres of what he intended to plant. Crop insurance helped his farm survive. During those years when drought hindered grass production, crop insurance helped him then, too.

“It does change the way I farm, knowing that my risks are at least covered to a certain extent,” Ligo says.

Third-generation dairy farmer Billy Smith feels deeply connected to his family legacy of farming.

“I feel that it’s our God-given right here to take care of this land,” he says. “I feel that we’ve been blessed in many ways. You know, it’s our livelihood.”

He’s had to file a couple of crop insurance claims. But knowing that this valuable federal program exists helps ease the worries that come with farming. By reducing some of the risks that can arise on his farm, crop insurance allows him to better plan for the future.

“It’s always there to back us up whenever we need it.”

Crop Insurance Supports Penn. Farmers in Lean Times

Scott Bowser runs a dairy farm about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania’s famous farm country.

His dad bought the farm when he was 6 and started with a herd of 14 cows. It’s grown since then and today, Bowser farms with his wife and youngest daughter, Abby. His oldest daughter would like to come back to the family farm.

Like all dairy farmers in Pennsylvania, and across the nation, he’s felt the impact of tariffs in the international market and low commodity prices.

“You take the good with the bad,” he says. “And everybody knows, the last few years have not been so good.”

But Bowser loves it. And he wants to pass the farm down to his children.

“If you want something for your kids to take over … if that’s something that they really want to do, there has to be something there,” he says.

National Crop Insurance Services recently visited farmers across Pennsylvania to find out how they are managing to keep something here for themselves and the next generation.

Times are tough in the Commonwealth.

The state, second in the nation in dairy, lost 370 farms last year, according to USDA.

Farmers all across Pennsylvania say crop insurance – whether whole farm revenue protection or policies that cover pasture, rangeland and forage – plays a critical role in keeping family operations going.

Down the road from Bowser’s place, Jared Smith is the eight-generation farming his family’s land. He wants to pass it to his children.

“The margins in agriculture are so slim right now that I feel crop insurance gives you a level of security that you are going to have some income off the investment you are making into your crops,” he says.

It helped keep him in business last year when late season rains forced him to leave hay, meant for his cows, standing in the fields.

Bowser agrees. He went 10 years without making a claim until wet years hurt his corn and bean crops.

“Crop insurance is one of those things that when you need it, you need it real bad,” he says. “And you get that check and you’re really glad to see that check coming. You might not be in business if you didn’t have it. The risks are too great.”