Crop insurance vital in light of current economic, weather conditions

As part of a farm bill policy reform summit in Washington, D.C., last week, groups including The R Street Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense, The Heritage Foundation and other like-minded groups have called for policy changes to the farm bill that the Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) finds short-sided and will ultimately harm the farming community and rural America.

In response to the Summit, Ben Adams, president of WAWG and aCoulee City, Wash., farmer, made the following statement:

“Contrary to the belief of certain groups proposing limited crop insurance options to America’s farmers, we pay premiums into the program each year with the hope of not collecting an indemnity. It is very misleading to consider federal crop insurance a handout when its purpose is to provide a risk management tool when unforeseeable conditions arise.

“In recent time, Eastern Washington farmers have experienced weather conditions that have greatly impacted our bottom lines. Crop insurance does not generate excess income, but rather it aids in recovering some of the loss so that we might be able to farm another year.

“We must also take into account the unique risk associated with agriculture. Insurance is often a requirement of operating lenders and groups intent on reducing access to federal insurance must recognize the unique risks to agriculture including lower rates of return and weather-related risks.”

David Schemm, president of National Association of Wheat Growers President and a Sharon Springs, Kans., farmer added, “Farmers aren’t competing on a level playing field on the international market. Countries like China use trade-distorting support programs that violate their WTO commitments and depress world prices. These are just a few reasons for why the Federal Crop Insurance Program continues to be the most important risk management tool available to farmers.

“Rural America and farming families are experiencing some of the worst economic hardships in decades. Now isn’t the time to implement policies that harm these families and hurt economic growth.”

Adams concludes, “Along with our National Organization of Wheat Growers, WAWG encourages Congress to ignore the rhetoric made by these groups during the reauthorization of the 2018 Farm Bill and to continue work with farmers during the process. In order to provide a safe, abundant and affordable food supply, farmers across the country need a strong safety net. And that includes federal crop insurance.”