Editor’s note: It’s been a hard year for the nation’s wheat farmers. Against a backdrop of disasters, falling prices and the lowest number of wheat acres under cultivation in U.S. history, wheat farmers have been making the rounds in Washington to explain the importance of a strong farm safety net in the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill. This is the third part of our series.
Jimmie Musick grows wheat in western Oklahoma with his wife, his son and two grandsons. It’s truly a family business.
“We are proud to be able to say that,” he said.
They also raise cattle and grow cotton, sorghum and alfalfa.
This year’s harvest, he said, was below average. His wheat acres are down just like nearly everybody else who grows the crop.
For Musick, crop insurance is one of the most important parts of the Farm Bill and it’s one that he advocates for every time he gets a chance.
“I always like to talk about an issue that is keeping my family in business,” he said. “It would virtually be impossible in western Oklahoma to farm without crop insurance.”
Musick, 73, started farming at 17. He remembers when crop insurance was not as useful as it was today.
Crop insurance has now become an indispensable component of U.S. farm policy. It is made possible by a close working relationship between the government and the private insurance industry.
Insurance agents sell policies, insurance companies service them, and the USDA oversees the program, making it affordable and widely available to all growers through aspects such as premium discounts.
Today, about 90 percent of U.S. farmland is insured, providing $100 billion in protection to more than 130 different kinds of crops in all 50 states.
Without it, Musick and his family wouldn’t still be farming. And, Musick says, it’s critically important to younger farmers.
“If there is no support and no guarantees, they don’t have the built-up equity to be able withstand some of the disasters.”
Like all farmers, Musick would rather never need his crop insurance policy.
“We are in the farming business and we take pride in our crops and we set out from the get-go to raise a crop the best we can,” he said. “I want to get my money out of the marketplace. I tell my crop insurance person I hope you don’t pay me a penny. I don’t want your money. I want it at the marketplace where it belongs.”
Read more of this series at www.farmpolicyfacts.org/farmbill.