On the heels of the worst drought in decades, Americas farmers — and the rural economies they support — bounced back and are expecting a record corn crop this year, due in part to the fact that 86 percent of planted cropland was protected by crop insurance last year.
“America’s breadbasket rebounded after a punishing drought and farmers have shown that with the right risk management tools in place, they are among the most resilient and productive workers in the nation,” said Tom Zacharias, president of National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS).
A new NCIS video offers an oversight of risk management in agriculture and the various risks farmers face, including those from Mother Nature, market forces and rising input costs. “America used to handle agricultural risk through unbudgeted, after the fact ad hoc disaster bills,” noted Zacharias, adding that this was all taxpayer funded, very costly, and slow to deliver.
Finally, America turned to a before the fact, affordable and more accountable way to handle agriculture disasters: Crop insurance. In 2001, crop insurance began its rise in prominence as farmers’ most useful, and popular risk management tool, all while overall federal agriculture spending was trending down. “The idea here was to reduce taxpayer burden and put the system on a planned, sustained basis, noted Zacharias.
The drought of 2012 put that model to the test. “Crop insurance was credited with helping to keep the rural economy afloat,” he added, noting a recent study that credited crop insurance with saving 22,000 jobs and $2.2 billion in four Midwest states alone after the 2012 drought. “This was an enormous benefit,” he added, noting that as we saw the drought sweep through the nation last summer, “indemnity payments were paid back to the farmers within ten to thirty days, and money went back into the rural communities.”
“An important part from the aspect of farm policy is that there was no call for an ad hoc disaster bill,” he added. “And taxpayers were not on the hook for the whole thing.”