Senators push for more crop insurance for new farmers, specialty crop farmers

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2013 - Thirteen senators sent a letter today to the Senate farm bill conferees calling for provisions that aim to make crop insurance more accessible for a wider range of producers, including beginning farmers and specialty crop growers.

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In the letter, senators wrote, “Specialty crop growers, organic producers, diversified operations, and young and beginning farmers, who have traditionally been underserved by federal crop insurance, deserve access to affordable and sufficient risk management tools that are on par with what is available for commodity producers … It is important to prioritize and support federal crop insurance products that address these underserved commodities, inadequate coverage, and low participation.”

In the letter, senators push for a whole farm revenue insurance product for diversified farms because, they say, the current system of insuring crop-by-crop does not work for highly diversified operations, including many sustainable and organic farms.

The senators further urged that organic farmers should not face lower rates of crop insurance in the wake of crop losses compared to non-organic products. The letter supported a provision in the House and Senate farm bills that would restore the Risk Management Agency's authority to conduct research and development activities to improve existing products and develop new ones.

Both the Senate and House farm bills would direct USDA to establish a whole farm revenue product that would work for a wide range of diversified operations, be available nationwide, and include a crop and enterprise diversification bonus.

The letter was sent by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Al Franken, D-Minn., Carl Levin, D-Mich., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

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