House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and U.S. farmers agree that the nation’s crop insurance program is a critical risk management tool. Lucas and the farmers disagree with a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggesting crop insurance program supports should be limited for farmers.
The Federal crop insurance program is structured, administered and operated to provide indemnity payments to the nation’s farmers in an efficient and effective manner for a wide array of disasters that can strike farming enterprises. Devastating floods and drought led to record crop insurance payments to farmers for 2011. Payments exceeded $10 billion to cover losses due to high crop values and volatile weather, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency, surpassing the previous record of $8.67 billion set in 2008.
"Over and over again we have heard from our farmers about the importance of crop insurance because it forms the backbone of the safety net,” said Lucas.
Last month, the House Agriculture Committee began a series of field hearings across the country to learn how agricultural programs are working for producers. Below are excerpts of hearing testimony from farmers who explained the importance of crop insurance program.
John Mages, corn and soybean producer, Belgrade, Minn.:
"First and foremost, please do no harm to Federal Crop Insurance, which should be preserved, protected, and strengthened. We strongly oppose any further legislative or administrative cuts to Federal Crop Insurance..."
Craig Adams, corn, soybean, wheat, hay, and beef producer, Leesburg, Ohio:
"Crop insurance in its current form is the most effective answer to short crop years. Any producer who desires an effective risk management tool can purchase crop insurance.”
John Williams, sorghum, corn, wheat, and soybean producer, McLeansboro, Ill.:
"On my operation, I plan defensively and understand the upside and downside of risk. I have seen what can happen to friends and neighbors when they do not plan for risk, underscoring the need for meaningful risk management tools that producers can utilize. Therefore, my first priority is to 'do no harm' to Federal Crop Insurance.
Adam Sullivan, apple producer, Sullivan Orchards, Peru, N.Y.:
"No crop insurance program will make a grower devastated by a natural disaster financially 'whole,' but it will allow them to survive a devastating loss and continue to support the economic engine of rural America."
Walter Corcoran, Jr., cotton, corn, peanut, soybean, grain sorghum, and livestock producer, Eufaula, Ala.:
"I have crop insurance coverage on most of my crops. Last year, because of the severe drought conditions, it provided a measure of risk protection that was critical to the economic viability of my farming operation. I strongly urge that crop insurance not be weakened during this farm bill. In today's environment of volatile prices and high input costs, effective risk management has never been more important."