The Trump Administration proposed another blow to the crop insurance industry in the president’s annual budget, but Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., made it clear that risk management tools should not be cut because they are crucial for both farmers and consumers.
“Every American consumer relies on agriculture and what we all do for the food on their plate,” noted Roberts during a speech to the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau (CIRB) today in Bonita Springs, Fla. “Our farmers produce the most safe and affordable food supply in the world. Crop insurance plays an important role obviously in ensuring that this statement remains true and we cannot allow this tool to be taken for granted.”
Roberts, the only member of Congress who has served as chair of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, is widely considered the “father” of modern-day crop insurance. He recounted the bipartisan development of the program, which he described as “quite a success story,” in part because it moved farmers away from annual ad hoc disaster payments and provides more predictability.
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“Although farmers are exceptional entrepreneurs, Mother Nature can be quite uncertain and tough to deal with at times, and so can Congress,” he added. “Farmers need a permanent framework that enables them to effectively manage risks, including the option to purchase risk management coverage that works best for their operation."
When the Kansan first began serving in Congress in 1980, federal crop insurance was only available for 27 commodities with insured coverage of approximately $6 billion on 45 million acres. Today, the program covers more than 100 commodities in all 50 states resulting in approximately $110 billion of insured coverage on about 380 million acres. "So, pat yourselves on the back," he added.
However, the crop insurance industry’s work is “far from over,” Roberts warned.
"There will always be self-appointed experts inside the Beltway who attack crop insurance," Roberts said. It happens every year, “either on the appropriation side with an amendment or, as I indicated, the new budget that came over the transom.”
It's going to be absolutely vital for the farm and crop insurance communities to continue to work together to maintain crop insurance, he added.
During the meeting, CIRB Chairman, Zane Vaughn of ARMtech presented Roberts with the organization's highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Photo and audio, courtesy of Chuck Zimmerman, AgNewsWire.
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