An industrywide crop insurance convention just adjourned, ending three days of sessions where participants discussed the importance of partnering with the new Administration to help farmers manage their growing risks. The event, organized by National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) and American Association of Crop Insurers, brought together industry members, agricultural producers and key lawmakers. "We're grateful to our friends on Capitol Hill who established crop insurance as the centerpiece of America's farm policy," said NCIS President Tom Zacharias, "And, we appreciate the outgoing Administration, which partnered with crop insurers over the last eight years to make coverage more affordable and available." He highlighted several recent successes:
- Farmers helped fund their own safety net, collectively spending more than $30 billion from their own pockets on insurance coverage since 2009.
- Because of crop insurance, Congress didn't have to pass costly ad hoc disaster bills after severe flooding in the Midwest in 2011 or the widespread drought of 2012.
- 25 million more acres are covered today than in 2009, thanks to steps taken to add new products and make premiums more affordable for farmers.
- Instances of improper crop insurance payments in 2016 — a common measure of government program efficiency — were just 2.02 percent, compared to a 4.67 percent average for other government programs.
- Since passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, crop insurance costs have come in under budget estimates by approximately $3 billion.
- In 2012 alone, crop insurance saved 20,900 jobs across Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming with an annual labor income of $721.2 million, according to a new study by Farm Credit Services.
Zacharias believes this solid foundation can be built upon for years to come. "The new Administration's promise to protect and grow American jobs, and its pro-business attitude give us reason to be optimistic," he explained. "We are eager to partner with the incoming USDA to strengthen rural America and help our farmers." He concluded: "The cost-sharing attributes of crop insurance help shield taxpayers from risk. Private-sector efficiencies speed aid when its needed the most. Farmers can tailor coverage to their own unique operations. And crop insurance is popular throughout rural America. All of which should bode well in the upcoming Farm Bill debate."
Vern and Shelley Williams
Vern Williams has been farming since 1970 and he and his wife grow mostly wheat, with a few cattle and hay. Crop insurance "helps us sleep at night," his wife Shelley told us. "If we do have a loss, we won't lose our livelihood."
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