#ICYMI: Give Crop Insurance a Chance to Work

March 23, 2015

Keith Mussman, a farmer and president of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau, took to the editorial pages of The Daily Journal a few days ago to express what is on the minds of farmers all across the country: give crop insurance and the 2014 Farm Bill a chance to work.

The ink is barely dry on the 2014 Farm Bill – in fact it is not even fully implemented yet – and already some legislators in Washington are threatening to put crop insurance and farm policy on the chopping block.

In a letter to the editor, Mussman writes “these congressmen seem to have forgotten that while the farm bill was being debated in 2012, Illinois was at the center of the most devastating drought in recent memory. The only saving grace – for not only farmers, but also taxpayers – was high participation levels in the crop insurance program.”
 
Mussman continues to explain that crop insurance helped farmers make it to another year without a single request for unbudgeted ad hoc disaster assistance. He further explains that crop insurance is a large investment for farmers so it is important that it remain affordable.

“Just so everyone understands, with crop insurance farmers don’t receive a check, they write a check. In fact, farmers spend about $4 billion each year for crop insurance coverage from private companies with no expectation of anything but a favorable growing season,” Mussman writes.

Farm bills are designed to provide certainty to an unpredictable and inherently risky business. That is one reason why they are in place for five years at a time. The one thing farmers can count on is the farm safety net, so it is a cruel trick to even discuss changing the terms one year into the law. As Mussman states “give crop insurance a chance to work.”

The full letter is printed below:

    Give Crop Insurance A Chance to Work

    The Daily Journal

    By: Keith Mussman

    A year after the farm bill was enacted, the debate over crop insurance is brewing again. As cost estimates grow for the 2014 farm bill’s commodity program, several members of Congress are calling for program cuts.

    These congressmen seem to have forgotten that while the farm bill was being debated in 2012, Illinois was at the center of the most devastating drought in recent memory. The only saving grace — for not only farmers, but also for taxpayers — was high participation levels in the crop insurance program. Having purchased crop insurance enabled farmers to survive the $5 billion disaster.

    What’s more, following the drought, there wasn’t a single request for ad-hoc disaster assistance. Crop insurance indemnities helped Illinois farmers cover a portion of their losses, pay their bills and get a crop in the ground the following spring.

    The 2014 farm bill places even greater emphasis on risk management. And just so everyone understands, with crop insurance farmers don’t receive a check, they write a check. In fact, farmers spend about $4 billion each year for crop insurance coverage from private companies with no expectation of anything but a favorable growing season.

    We had a chance to change crop insurance during the farm bill debate. And we did change it. For the better. Now, let’s give crop insurance a chance to work.

    Keith Mussman is the president of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau.