A proposed $4 billion cut over five years to the USDA crop-insurance program’s contracting agreement with private insurance companies has prompted 10 commodity organizations to express their concerns in writing to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

USDA’s crop-insurance contracting agreement is called the Standard Reinsurance Agreement.

The draft reduction the USDA is considering would be in addition to last year’s cut of $6.4 billion over 10 years and another $1.7 billion in cuts to other components of the farm safety net, the commodity coalition said in its letter.

The organizations urged Vilsack “to promulgate an (agreement) that does not undermine the important gains made in crop insurance since... 2000, but instead further strengthens available risk management protections and broadens meaningful access.”

The department said the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 authorized USDA to renegotiate the SRA, which was last negotiated for 2005. USDA had expected to notify the insurance companies at the end of 2009 that the current agreement “will be canceled as of June 30, 2010,” thereby enabling the new agreement to be signed by all parties.

Groups signing the letter were USA Rice Federation, U.S. Rice Producers Association, National Cotton Council, American Soybean Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Farmers Union, National Sorghum Producers, and Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.