An August storm in Iowa flattened millions of acres of corn with more than 100 mile-per-hour winds, wildfires in the West continue to do untold damage to fruit and vegetable crops, and hurricane season in the Atlantic has already generated a historic number of storms.
Farmers are sure to face even more challenges as extreme storms and other destructive weather events threaten to upend harvest.
It’s certainly been a tough year and the end is not yet in sight. As one south Texas crop insurance agent recently told the Groundwork podcast, “We’re coming out of brutal hopefully into just bad.”
We spoke to that crop insurance agent, Casey Clipson, as well as agent Jack Tank, based out of Iowa City, Iowa, about the unique challenges of this year and the indispensable role that crop insurance plays in the farm safety net. Listen to the full episode here.
Farming and ranching are unique professions. A farmer’s livelihood relies nearly completely on the whims of Mother Nature. Some years, it might feel more like downright malice.
Crop insurance draws on the power of private industry to efficiently process claims and provide farmers and ranchers with timely assistance when disaster strikes. It’s not free – farmers must purchase crop insurance policies and shoulder deductibles – but it’s widely used because it’s a reliable risk management tool that helps farmers survive unforeseen challenges.
As an agent, Clipson knows the importance of crop insurance. He recently saw the farm safety net once again kick into action as Hurricane Hanna swept across parts of Texas, devastating farmland.
“Here’s customers of mine, friends, families, hardworking people that have everything they’ve got in this crop… they were harvesting, and then it’s gone,” Clipson said. “It’s very challenging for these guys mentally, to know that there’s a lot of things I could do with that potential revenue out there. And all of a sudden, it’s not there.”
Tank saw a similar situation unfold in Iowa. Farmers had a “tremendous crop” in the fields before the derecho in August caused unprecedented damage.
That’s where crop insurance comes in. Crop insurance can’t make these farmers whole, but it does allow them to plant again another year. Crop insurance supports our farmers and ranchers as they navigate damaging weather and unpredictable markets.
As Clipson said, “[crop insurance] is vital to the long-term success of agriculture.”
While farmers and ranchers have faced untold challenges this year, rural America remains optimistic about the road ahead.
Tank shared with Groundwork listeners a story about a farmer who, even as he tried to figure out how to harvest corn flattened to the ground, was excited about his better-than-expected soybean crop.
Farming is in the blood. And so is that enduring optimism and resilient spirit. That’s why America’s farmers and ranchers continue to do what they do.
Let’s support America’s farmers and ranchers by maintaining a strong crop insurance program and a robust farm safety net.