As worsening drought conditions continue to envelop more than half of the United States, the American Soybean Association (ASA) is pointing to the farm bill currently stalled and awaiting debate by the full House of Representatives as an essential means of ensuring the continued coverage of American farmland through crop insurance and risk management, as well as disaster assistance programs. 

 “As conditions deteriorate throughout much of rural America and the outlook for farmers becomes bleaker and bleaker, we are reminded that farming is subject to so many elements and risks outside of the farmer’s control.

“This further emphasizes the need for programs to help farmers manage risks in order to stay viable and plant next year,” said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. 

Currently, 85 percent of soybean acres in the United States are covered by crop insurance. However, Wellman says it should not be misconstrued as a profit center for farmers. “Just as when homeowners insurance replaces valuables following a flood or a fire, crop insurance only covers farmers in the event of a significant loss,” he said.

“These policies often have deductibles or loss levels at 25 percent or more. They aren’t there to turn a profit; they exist to help farmers survive and keep farming.”

Wellman added that the current conditions point directly to the benefits provided by revenue-based risk management programs.

“Revenue-based risk management tools that complement crop insurance ensure that farmers who suffer a crop loss — and accompanying revenue loss — receive the assistance they need to remain viable,” he said. “In contrast, a target price-based program would provide no assistance to farmers affected by the drought since it would activate only if prices are low and then only on actual production.”