RMA responds to WAWG’s request

Back in September, the wheat industry organizations from Washington, Oregon and Idaho sent a letter to Brandon Willis, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), asking the agency to waive rules that require elevators to report falling number discounts that will be used against a producer’s yield, especially when no crop insurance claim is being filed. On a conference call organized by the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), Willis denied the request despite support from more than 30 Pacific Northwest ag organizations and 12 members of the Pacific Northwest’s congressional delegation. Despite requests for an explanation from the industry and media, RMA stayed quiet until just recently.

In a late-October letter addressed to Joshua Tonsager, NAWG’s legislative director, Willis said that waiving the reporting rules for the wheat industry would “…result in a disparate treatment between producers with payable claims and those without. Changing this procedure would also result in disparate treatment of the producers of virtually all other commodities and past years where quality has been an issue for other crops and areas. Lastly, establishing  a production history on a basis different than how claims are paid would run contrary to how the program has operated and would violate general principles of insurance—namely that the program must operate in an actuarially sound manner.”

The letter goes on to say that while RMA sympathizes with wheat producers who are struggling with low prices and poor quality wheat, the agency doesn’t believe it would be fair to change a longstanding process midyear, a process that has been used to establish a production history by thousands of producers for more than 20 years for almost all crops insured under the federal crop insurance program.

“Allowing producers in one situation to not adjust yields would not be fair to all the producers nationwide whose yields have been adjusted due to quality issues,” the letter states.

Click here to read the industry letter to RMA.

Click here to read the letter of support from members of Washington state’s Congressional delegation.

Click here to read the letter of support from the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Click here to read the letter of support from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

For more information:

Michelle Hennings, Washington Association of Wheat Growers (509) 659-0610
Stacey Satterlee, Idaho Grain Producers Association (208) 345-0706
Blake Rowe, Oregon Wheat Growers League (541) 276-7330