National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) has released the first in a series of educational videos about crop insurance to explain what crop insurance is and why it is so important in the drafting of the new Farm Bill.
Keith Collins is a former USDA Chief Economist who is now an economic advisor for NCIS. He says crop insurance has been the main push from the start of this Farm Bill discussion.
“Virtually every farm organization and commodity organization has very strongly advocated that crop insurance needs to be the central feature of the future farm safety net. I think for good reason. We’ve seen enormous growth in the program. A decade ago it covered 200 million acres in the United States and today it’s 262 million acres.”
Just last year Midwest floods and drought in the southern plains resulted in the payment of very large indemnities paid in a very timely manner, demonstrating a system that is working.
“And farmers realize that if they didn’t have this level of protection with crop insurance they’d be dependent on ad hoc disaster assistance from Congress, like they were in the past before crop insurance really grew to take the place it has today.”
Collins says getting supplemental assistance through Congress now would have been impossible.
In the video titled Crop Insurance 101 Americans will have an introduction to crop insurance, and NCIS president Tom Zacharias says it is important for the public to fully understand how the agricultural sector was able to bounce back from the most destructive weather year in modern history last year, when farmers received $10.6 billion in indemnities for the policies they had purchased. Now they are back in their fields this spring, planting food feed, fiber and fuel crops for consumers across the country.
In the first video, Zacharias explains that crop insurance has evolved as a way to limit taxpayer risk exposure by shifting it to private business. Other videos detailing the importance of crop insurance to agriculture and the role it has played in mitigating the long term damage to farmers and their livelihoods caused by natural disasters will be released in the future.
“Today’s popular crop insurance system has proven time and time again to be the most efficient way to deliver assistance to farmers quickly after a disaster to help them recover,” said Zacharias. “Best of all, the public-private partnership has been lauded from all major farm groups, elected officials, and most importantly, farmers themselves.”