Thanks Kansas City Star for Giving a Voice to Farmers

January 27, 2015

The merits of having a strong farm policy, including risk management tools like crop insurance, are many times overlooked, dismissed, and even criticized by the leading papers and media outlets of the day.  Instead, the critics of farm policy are given far more opportunities to rail against our nation’s secure food supply and the people who provide it.  Meanwhile, farmers are never given the chance to even offer a counterpoint.

For this reason, Farm Policy Facts was pleased to see the Kansas City Star recently publish a letter to the editor from the past president of the Kansas Farm Bureau highlighting how important crop insurance is to farmers and dispelling some of the myths surrounding it.

For example, farmers buy crop insurance policies to protect them from financial ruin in the event of a disaster.  As Steve Baccus writes in the letter:

“For farmers, a lifetime’s work and every penny they have can be wiped out by a single hail storm, a drought or a market crash that erases any chance of profit regardless of how well crops do.”

Moreover, farmers who purchase crop insurance polices only receive an indemnity when they have verifiable losses.  Mr. Baccus explains:

“Some think crop insurance is a freebie. It’s not. Farmers have skin in the game when they pay their premiums, which is not pocket change.

“In fact, the farmers I know spend $35,000 to $40,000 every year to purchase their policies. And in many years, they don’t collect a dime.

Furthermore, crop insurance, just like other forms of insurance, has deductibles so farmers must shoulder a considerable loss before indemnities trigger.  And, anyone who understands agriculture knows that farmers would prefer to harvest a good crop than receive an indemnity.  Sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. 

These are key facts that we are grateful to have published in a major newspaper.  We wish other papers would follow suit and give voice to farmers and their way of life.  Or, at the very least, allow farmers to defend themselves against their critics who many times have never stepped foot on a farm, but are brazen enough to attack American agriculture with full bellies and well-stocked shelves at the grocery store.

The full letter to the editor is below:

“For farmers, a lifetime’s work and every penny they have can be wiped out by a single hail storm, a drought or a market crash that erases any chance of profit regardless of how well crops do. That is why the vast majority of Kansas farmers purchase crop insurance every year and why it must remain available, affordable and viable.

“With the cost of farming so high, most farmers must show proof of crop insurance to secure production loans from banks. This allows banks to make production loans to folks who might otherwise be judged too risky.

“One of those groups is young farmers. They are the key to the future of American agriculture. For them, if they haven’t purchased crop insurance, one bad year and they are done.

“Some think crop insurance is a freebie. It’s not. Farmers have skin in the game when they pay their premiums, which is not pocket change.

“In fact, the farmers I know spend $35,000 to $40,000 every year to purchase their policies. And in many years, they don’t collect a dime.

“Crop insurance helps ensure a legacy of abundance in America.”