The Obama Administration rolled out a $4.1 trillion budget deal Tuesday that included an $18 billion cut to the crop insurance program. Ag sector reaction was, as expected, negative. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill were quick to voice their disapproval of the plan. House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Conaway said it would be a severe blow to farmers and ranchers. Pat Roberts, who chairs the Senate Ag Committee, said the new budget was an attack on the American producer’s ability to manage risk.
As in previous attempts by the White House to cut crop insurance, funding such a plan would lead to higher rates and less coverage for farmers says National Crop Insurance Services President Tom Zacharias, “It is important for farmers to have the support they need to keep the premiums manageable so you have good participation in the program.” Zacharias said producers already pay a collective $4 billion every year for crop insurance, and, with crop prices at low levels, this is no time to raise rates, “In fact, the University of Illinois is recommending that producers increase their coverage in these tough economic times.” Zacharias added that he hopes lawmakers will reject the proposal in a similar fashion to last fall’s $3 billion dollar proposed cut.
The American Soybean Association was also quick to respond to the proposed cut. “We once again find ourselves fighting attempts to cut crop insurance,” said Richard Wilkins, ASA President and a farmer from Greenwood, DE. “Our policy has always been that we will strongly and absolutely oppose any attempt to target farm bill programs for additional cuts, and it goes without saying that we will continue to fight proposed cuts to the farm safety net. All it takes is a quick glance around the farm economy to see that we need a stronger safety net for our farmers, not a weaker one.”
“A global glut of food production has sent U.S. farm revenues down sharply. With farm income down 56 percent in the past two years alone, America’s farmers and ranchers face difficult times. Yet, the president’s just-released budget would cut 27 USDA programs, including a 10-year, $18 billion cut to the federal crop insurance programs so important to farmers. And all this happens as farm income is projected to decline another 3 percent in 2016,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall in a statement released on Wednesday. “Leaders in Congress have been clear in their negative views on the administration’s proposed cuts, noting that they will be writing the budget on Capitol Hill. We will work closely with our elected officials as they begin their work on the budget to protect the interests of our farmers and ranchers.”