NAWG CEO Daren Coppock attended a Wednesday roundtable discussion on crop insurance with the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.
Nebraska wheat grower and NAWG Director Scott Osler had also been slated to attend, but a cancelled flight out of North Platte prevented his attendance.
The meeting was organized by Subcommittee Chairman Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and included producer representatives from a number of commodity organizations.
Many of the points raised at the session garnered agreement across the groups in attendance, including a need for more affordable coverage at higher protection levels, the need to address shallow losses, a wish to separate coverage by major farming practices (such as irrigated vs. non-irrigated) and the need for more responsive and market-oriented quality loss adjustment factors. Several of the producers in attendance also commented that the amount of coverage available at affordable prices has not kept up with rising input costs.
Coppock pointed out that crop insurance is a very significant part of the farm safety net for wheat, with 77 percent of wheat acres nationally having some sort of coverage. Coppock also emphasized a number of crop insurance’s important benefits, including that it’s specifically tailored to real farm risks, written in permanent law and understandable and acceptable to the nonfarm public. In addition, crop insurance indemnities are not arbitrarily limited by payment limitations, and crop insurance is compliant with WTO obligations.
Another observer noted that as the process for a 2012 Farm Bill begins to take shape over the next couple of years, agriculture may need to assess the array of farm programs, including the commodity programs, SURE and crop insurance, and decide if it would be better to focus the resources more intently on a smaller number of programs. That notion will be an appetizer on the food-for-thought menu of NAWG’s Domestic and Trade Policy Committee as it begins preparations for the next farm bill over the coming months.
When NAWG and others raised the problem of actual production history (APH) erosion from multiple years of successive crop losses, Boswell specifically asked NAWG to help with the issue by proposing a solution.
Boswell also expressed interest in forming an advisory working group of farmers to help create solutions to the issues raised at the session, with which the groups largely agreed to participate.