Crop insurance requires farmers' "skin in the game"

Published online: Jan 20, 2014
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When the farm bill is finally passed, most of its titles will have experienced cuts, while notably, crop insurance is expected to see gains, according to Brandon Willis, the administrator of the USDA's Risk Management Agency.

That's because of the recognition by lawmakers that crop insurance is the lynchpin of the farm safety net, he said.

"I think a lot of that reason is farmers have skin in the game," Willis told Brownfield Ag News at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in San Antonio, where he spoke. "They [lawmakers] understand that farmers put a lot at risk and that's certainly the program they're moving toward is crop insurance."

Even so, said Willis, many people don't understand the advantages of crop insurance as a safety net.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a frequent critic of the government subsidies of crop insurance premiums. The EWG claims that the subsidies go to the largest and most successful farms.

On the other hand, because farmers actually have to pay for crop insurance coverage, Willis refers to the Crop Insurance Program not as a defendable program, but as a great program.

"They only get a payment from crop insurance if they suffer a natural disaster," said Willis. "I think if everybody understood just how market-oriented the program was, that farmers have skin in the game, I think people would appreciate this program a lot more than they do."