What is in this article?:
- Commentary: Donâ€™t throw specialty crops under the bus
- Would face higher premiums
• While the last decade has seen a wide variety of farm policies that were devised to help the growers of the major commodities in times of weather calamites, one policy that has really worked for the specialty crop industry is crop insurance.
• That’s why, as a crop insurance agent, it’s so distressing that the Senate passed an amendment to the farm bill that would subject crop insurance participation to a means test.
Would face higher premiums
For example, if you removed the healthy individuals from a health care plan, those who remained would have to face higher insurance premiums because they would have a higher collective risk of illness. In order for insurance to be economical and effective, insurance companies have to spread risk and delivery cost out across a diversified customer base to make products more affordable for all.
For every risky policy, you need one with little risk as an offset. If those folks leave, you get stuck paying for the difference, or losing benefits and services.
Under this amendment, the most successful farmers, including some fruit and vegetable growers, would likely have to cut back on their crop insurance purchases. As a result, the small farmers, the beginning farmers, and smaller specialty crop farmers — all of whom have historically suffered losses and thus have higher a higher risk profile — would all pay a price under this amendment.
Farmers across the state will be stuck having to pay more for their premiums for the same coverage they’re getting today and agents like me will be more pressed when dealing with the smaller farms.
And what will happen when farmers are faced with higher costs to protect their fresh fruit and produce? They’ll be forced to pass those costs onto consumers, which will make it more difficult for them to maintain the diet they’re being told to eat.
And that’s not fair to you.
Crop insurance has proven itself a resounding success, and has shifted a good share of the risk of agricultural disasters from the taxpayer to private companies. It has been able to do this because crop insurance is a public-private partnership that allows farmers of some 129 crops, and all sizes and risk levels, to purchase policies that cover their specific farm. When disaster hits, their indemnity helps them get back on their feet.
And despite record agricultural losses in 2011, totaling nearly $11 billion, there was not a single call for a large-scale government disaster package in Congress. Why? Because farmers collected their crop insurance indemnities and didn’t need a Congressional bailout.
Farmers, farm leaders, crop insurance agents and lenders alike filed into the halls of Congress this year and told our representatives, in one unified voice, “do no harm to crop insurance.”
Hopefully, that message will be heard in the House as it prepares to take up the farm bill and will reject any similar amendments to their farm bill. That vote will assure all of us that the safety net that keeps small, specialty crop producers in business growing fruits and vegetables for the American public can still be counted on.