In an election year that has seen sharp divides among candidates and voters on the major issues of the day, there is one policy area that is receiving widespread, bipartisan support: farm policy and crop insurance.
A new public opinion poll that was conducted by a phone survey in April and commissioned by the National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) demonstrates that Republican, Democratic, and Independent voters all believe U.S. farm policy is an important investment.
By an 81 to 15 percent margin, voters polled said that, “a strong and thriving American farm industry is critical to American national security” with 92 percent of voters supporting federal spending to help farms and farmers.
They also gave farmers high approval ratings that would be the envy of Congress and the president with 86 percent of voters viewing agricultural producers favorably compared to 3 percent that did not.
Further, voters liked the reality that farmers are helping to fund their own safety net, especially as it relates to crop insurance. Farmers purchase policies from private insurers to protect their operations from financial ruin when natural disasters strike. The federal government provides a premium discount – or credit – to farmers to help make purchasing a policy more affordable. Even still, farmers are paying roughly 40 percent of their premium and absorbing roughly 25 percent of their crop losses through deductibles.
More than 70 percent of voters agreed with this cost-sharing approach to public policy and almost 80 percent supported discounted crop insurance.
Indeed, this support for a farm safety net coincides with views from some lawmakers – from both sides of the political aisle – on Capitol Hill. With a depressed farm economy, the House Committee on Agriculture has recently held several hearings on the financial pressures and tightening credit conditions farmers are facing across the country. Members on the panel have expressed concern about the current conditions and a desire to keep the 2014 Farm Bill protected from the constant onslaught of professional critics who want to cut and even eliminate farm policy and crop insurance.
During one hearing, Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-01), the chairman of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, stated, “While many producers are struggling just to hang on, some in Washington continue to advocate for gutting the farm safety net…Now is not the time to pull the rug out from under our nation’s hard working farm and ranch families.”
Rep. Timothy Walz (MN-01), the ranking member on the subcommittee, added, “At this time more than any time, risk management is critical.”
And, Rep. K. Michael Conaway (TX-11), the chairman of the committee, summed it up best by saying, “it is in our nation’s best interest to continue providing them with the risk management tools they need to continue feeding and clothing our nation.”
American voters couldn’t agree more which speaks volumes given today’s political climate.