In that single moment, I realized that there are no guarantees and certainly not with farming. We operate at the will of Mother Nature. As a result, we have to do our part to minimize the risk as best as we can, so we can get back on our feet when a disaster strikes.
“As we begin negotiations around a new Farm Bill, I for one will be an outspoken advocate for crop insurance. It is not just an ‘insurance policy’ for farmers, but also an ‘insurance policy’ against disruption and financial instability in the food production sector.”
When it comes to farming, it seems the critics always have the easy answer. They portray this line of work as if every day brings blue skies and no worries. The reality is the farming business comes with a fair share of challenges; chief among them is the unpredictability of weather and markets. Anything can and will happen.
What I have learned during this time is this: farming is an enormous game of risk management. It’s not if something bad is going to happen, it’s when.
As farmers, we have no control over weather. We have no control over markets. We have no control over our foreign competitors. We cannot just turn our operations on or off. We have to take care of the land 365 days a year. We need a safety net when commodity prices fall. We need affordable and reliable crop insurance to protect our yearly investments.
Earlier this month, Heritage Action CEO, Michael Needham, wrote an op-ed playing their old song that trashes farmers and farm policy that was published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. This time, in an incredible act of duplicity, Needham tried to portray the Arkansas Farm Bureau, a grassroots organization if there ever was one, of being part of “the establishment” in Washington, D.C. Friend of Farm Policy Facts and Former Congressman Larry Combest wrote a response in kind to set the record straight as to who is the real Washington insider.
“As Congress and the White House wrestle with their respective budgets in the coming weeks, I hope good sense will prevail and they’ll leave crop insurance and farm policy alone.”
If cotton production leaves our state and local communities, the infrastructure of cotton gins, warehouses and associated businesses will go with it, and history tells us it will not return.
Now is the time to protect the one thing beginning farmers and their bankers can count on.
It is a fact that strong farm policy and support for crop insurance goes beyond the farmer, not only benefitting rural America but consumers as well.
If my family had kept the farm, I would have been a fourth-generation farmer of a grain operation. But they couldn’t.
The United States should stop trying to balance its budget on the backs of farmers. It is bad policy, and there’s no room for further reductions.
“Agriculture, as a whole, rose up and said enough is enough,” said Steve Verett, the Executive Vice President of the Plains Cotton Growers.
As Congress prepares to vote on a budget agreement that includes cuts to a key component of the farm safety net, Larry Combest, the former chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Select Committee on Intelligence, makes clear to lawmakers what is at stake if it comes to pass.
As a fourth generation Mississippi farmer, I grew up knowing that I worked in a field full of risks. When the weather cooperates, prices dive. When prices are great, foreign markets collapse, sending prices into a sudden nosedive. It’s always something. However, it wasn’t until I actually set out on my own in farming in 2011 that I fully understood just how financially exposed farmers are when they put a crop in the ground.
If ever we lose the hard-working independent family farms that take care of the nation’s landscape while producing a diverse set of crops more reliably and efficiently than any farm sector in history, then, and only then will we truly understand the value they provide.
Whether you’re a peach grower in South Carolina like me or a corn farmer in Iowa or a cherry grower in Michigan or a cotton farmer in Texas, crop insurance is designed to cover you when disasters strike. And the more farmers buying policies, the better we all are in the long run because that spreads the risk.
Unilateral disarmament will do nothing to help U.S. consumers or a U.S. economy that depends on a thriving agricultural sector. It will only reward China and other bad actors, while leaving hardworking American farmers powerless the next time storm clouds gather.
This recent headline says it all. The diversity of American agricultural production coupled with the varied growing conditions across the country and the swings in weather explains why farmers need a safety net. More importantly, it describes why crop insurance is the centerpiece of the farm safety net.
A financially healthy rural economy requires a financially healthy farm production sector. And that sector relies on a safety net when catastrophic events happen. It is a modest investment considering the return, which is a stable and affordable national food and fiber supply.
Crop insurance products were improved in the recent farm bill because Congress recognized that these products are a necessity for farmers regardless of size. To me, a federally-supported crop insurance policy is defensible because a portion of the product’s cost is borne by the farmer.
Some stereotypes about U.S. farm policy just won’t die. For example, the belief that farmers get paid for not growing; or that benefits just go to big agribusinesses; or that farm spending is out of control. Such criticisms make splashy headlines but are no longer relevant thanks to the significant evolution of farm policy over the past 20 years
Maintaining a modest response to the cheaters by preserving U.S. farm policy is not only the right thing to do, it is also an essential means of maintaining support for trade and the only leverage the United States has in getting our trading partners to one day tear down the walls they have been so busy building.
My husband and I have been farming in Southeastern Colorado for more than 40 years, and during that time the biggest policy change through the years has been the affordability and availability of crop insurance.
We can’t assume policymakers understand the anxiety we feel when we’re days away from harvesting a good crop and it’s destroyed in a matter of minutes by something beyond our control.
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.