Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reps. Peterson, Conaway Reaffirm Crop Insurance Support Prior to Farm Bill

(BONITA SPRINGS, Fla.) – Leaders from the House Agriculture Committee expressed their continued support for crop insurance and urged agriculture to remain vigilant against farm policy critics during the upcoming Farm Bill debate. The Committee’s Ranking Member, Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), spoke at the crop insurance industry’s annual conference this week, calling crop insurance “a safety net that really works for producers.” He praised private-sector delivery as one of the main reasons for its success over the years. “When the government tried to run crop insurance, it just didn’t work,” he said, referring to the period before private providers were tapped in 1980 to deliver insurance protection to farmers. The public-private partnership that characterizes crop insurance today prioritizes customer service and innovates to meet the changing risks that farmers face, Peterson explained. “We just need to make sure we keep it that way in the future,” he noted. Peterson wasn’t alone in applauding the current structure of crop insurance. Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Tex.) told the group via video message that private industry and a “motivated agent workforce on the ground,” have helped increase crop insurance participation over the years. This, he said, has reduced taxpayer risk exposure and virtually eliminated the need for costly ad hoc disaster bills in agriculture. “Put simply, crop insurance is working,” Conaway continued. “For every farmer, banker, and rural businessman I talk to, they all remind me that crop insurance is the cornerstone of the farm safety net.” Conaway noted that Farm Bill hearings would begin before the end of the month, and Peterson expressed his desire to deliver a bill before the end of the year. To do so, Peterson stressed, agriculture and its allies must work together to beat back critics of farm policy who want to leave farmers with fewer risk management tools. The Chairman agreed. “We can win this fight. We will win this fight because we are in the right,” he concluded. “We stand for an industry that blesses this nation with every bushel or bale that’s produced. This is an industry worth fighting for.”