A strong and reliable safety net for our nation’s farmers, as well as our soil and wetlands, is a critical component of the farm bill and the future of agricultural sustainability.
With 300 million acres, or roughly 90 percent of all insurable farmland, protected by insurance policies, it is clear that purchasing crop insurance is a fundamental part of risk management for farmers today. The production of our food and fiber supply relies on healthy soils and clean water, and producers understand better than anyone that successful farming goes hand-in-hand with good land stewardship.
That is why for more than 30 years, conservation compliance has been a central part of our country’s agricultural framework. This longstanding agreement between American taxpayers and farmers has served as an effective partnership model to promote sustainable land use, conserve wildlife habitat, protect drinking water and provide flood protection.
During the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress increased the importance of crop insurance and cemented its role as the centerpiece of the farm safety net by providing more insurance options for even more farms and ranches. This includes options for many vegetable and fruit growers that may not have participated in the program previously because the coverage did not fit their needs.
Meanwhile, a coalition of commodity, crop insurance and wildlife groups joined forces to support linking crop insurance to conservation compliance for the first time since 1996. As part of this conservation compact, farmers receiving a discount on their crop insurance premium agree to adopt basic conservation measures that minimize impacts to wetlands, native sod and highly erodible lands. This policy protects millions of wetland acres nationwide and enables the U.S. Department of Agriculture to apply consistent policy to all producers.
With more than 70 percent of the lower 48 states under private ownership and with crop insurance covering more than 130 different commodities, collaboration between agriculture and conservation partners is key to ensuring a stable and profitable agriculture industry that conserves wetlands, highly erodible lands and soils.
The American Association of Crop Insurers (AACI) and Ducks Unlimited (DU) were leaders of this broad coalition during the last farm bill because of the benefits to farmers, taxpayers, consumers and the environment. As we move forward with the 2018 Farm Bill, AACI and DU urge Congress to continue this policy. Make no mistake, crop insurance is a fundamental pillar of the farm safety net and every acre that is enrolled in crop insurance is an acre that is providing safe and affordable food and fiber while preserving our natural resources for future generations to enjoy.
About the Authors: Rogers Hoyt, President of Ducks Unlimited and producer from Uvalde, Texas and Larry Heitman, Chairman of the American Association of Crop Insurers