National Farmers Union (NFU) joined a broad coalition of 49 groups representing farm interests, equipment manufacturers, banks, insurance companies, credit lenders, and other entities in urging Congressional leadership to keep their promise to American farmers to not cut crop insurance or other farm programs through the omnibus appropriations act. “Cuts to crop insurance translate into further consolidation within the crop insurance sector, providing less choice for family farmers who depend on this cost-effective safety net program,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We appreciate the deal struck during the budget negotiations between majority leadership and House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership. As Congress negotiates an omnibus spending bill, we are urging them to keep their promise to leave the farm bill intact and not make cuts to the federal crop insurance program.”
An agreement was struck between U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Republican leadership and the committees of jurisdiction during the recent budget debate to unwind both the policy and the cut to crop insurance made within the budget deal.
“The crop insurance provision contained in the budget would gut the private sector delivery of the crop insurance program by cutting the target rate of return by 38%,” notes the coalition’s letter to all members of Congress. “Under the current target rate of return, crop insurance companies have realized negative net returns since 2011. Further reducing the target rate would only drive the industry further into the red.”
As previously reported by Agri-Pulse, “the $3 billion in savings that the cut was supposed to produce will be found in some other, non-agricultural area of the federal budget.”
“This commitment is very important to our members and to everyone involved in agriculture,” said Johnson. “Just like we opposed this unwarranted cut to crop insurance, our members will also strongly oppose cuts to other important titles of the farm bill, such as additional cuts to conservation, energy and nutrition.”
The letter also notes that the agriculture community is strongly committed to the belief that balancing the federal budget is important, which is why the industry supported the passage of a farm bill just last year that saved $16.6 billion.
“The farm bill is a careful balance of priorities and should not be reopened before its expiration in 2018,” notes the letter. “Additionally, the crop insurance program has contributed more than $12 billion towards reducing government spending since the 2008 Farm Bill, which well-surpasses the funding added to the program in 2014.”
“The crop insurance program is the lynchpin of the farm safety net and is crucial to the economic security of rural America,” says the letter. “As an omnibus spending bill is negotiated, we urge you to uphold the promise to make the crop insurance program whole again without re-opening the farm bill.”