GRAND ISLAND, NEB. – Protecting crop insurance should be at the top of the Nebraska Congressional delegation’s list as members go to work in shaping the 2018 Farm Bill, according to the Nebraska Farm Bureau. Nebraska Farm Bureau President, Steve Nelson outlined the importance of crop insurance in testimony provided to all five members of the delegation during a farm bill listening session hosted by Farm Bureau and other groups at the Nebraska State Fair, Sept. 1.
“Federal crop insurance has become the most important and vital piece of the farm bill,” said Nelson. “One doesn’t need to travel far to hear Nebraska farmers talk about instances where crop insurance was the only thing that stood between them and total financial disaster. Nebraska’s yearly sporadic weather patterns nearly always result in ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ when it comes to timely rains, drought, hail, or anything else mother nature throws at us each year.”
In 2016, Nebraska farmers placed more than 17.4 million acres, or 90 percent of Nebraska’s total crop production acreage, into the federal crop insurance program. That same year, Nebraska farmers paid over $217 million in premiums. While the federal government provides premium assistance, Nebraska farmers on average pay five percent more of their overall crop insurance costs than the national average.
“I know some in Washington have proposed cuts to the federal crop insurance program. We are told that little cuts here and there won’t make much of a difference to most farmers who rely on the protection offered by this program. Yet, it is important to remember that every small cut, every small restriction, and every small tweak has the potential to throw this vital program off balance,” said Nelson. “Like any insurance product, crop insurance rates are complex and are balanced with farms of many shapes, sizes, and risk levels. Placing short-sighted restrictions on one of the most successful farm programs in U.S. history to save minimal federal dollars is irresponsible, unacceptable, and totally inappropriate.”
In addition to highlighting crop insurance, Nelson pointed to several other overarching farm bill priorities including:
- Protection of current farm bill spending;
- Maintaining a unified farm bill containing both nutrition and farm programs;
- Prioritizing the funding of risk management tools, including Title I commodity programs like the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs; and
- Ensuring all farm bill programs are compliant with World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements.
“We greatly appreciate the delegation’s desire to hear what farmers and ranchers are thinking on what’s needed in the farm bill. I continue to remind people that food security is national security. The ability for us to work together to develop the programs that help American farmers and ranchers stay viable in producing food, fuel, and fiber for our country and the world can’t be understated,” said Nelson.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service and advocacy efforts. More than 61,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit www.nefb.org.