As the Agriculture Committees in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate prepare to mark up farm bill proposals this week, farmers and the commodity organizations that support them will watch closely to see where cuts are proposed, how deep those cuts are and what kind of safety net will be left after all the slicing and dicing is accomplished.

Crop insurance will be top of mind as the industry assesses the importance of what has become the key element of the farm safety net.

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) voiced concern this week over a proposal introduced in “an alternative conservation title bill,” that would limit government cost-share for crop insurance for crops produced on land that has been converted from sod grass or some wetlands.

“The bill would also tieconservation compliance to crop insurance, which NAWG strongly opposes,” according to a NAWG press release.

The organization expressed concerns that crop insurance would remain a target for legislators’ budget axes and expects “numerous proposals to weaken the crop insurance program. NAWG will continue to track such proposals and coordinate with state associations to combat them.”

Texas corn farmers also see crop insurance as an increasingly important aspect of protecting farmers against catastrophic losses.

“With the recently proposed farm bill from both the House and the Senate, crop insurance will be the tool farmers have left to provide risk coverage for their farm and to offer protection for the operating loans received from agricultural lenders,” says David Gibson, executive vice president for the Corn Producers Association of Texas.

The National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS), Overland Park, Kan., makes a good case for continuation of a strong crop insurance program and continued robust government support.

Tom Zacharias, in a recent editorial for Roll Call/CQ, explained that farmers, even with government assistance on crop insurance premiums, bear a significant burden and “shouldered nearly $17 billion in losses in 2012.”

Some $12.7 billion of that total came “before farmers saw a dime in crop insurance indemnity payments as part of their deductibles…. When combined with the $4.1 billion farmers paid out of their own pockets to purchase crop insurance last year, total farmer investment neared $17 billion,” Zacharias said.