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Crop Insurance Important but Far From Perfect

17 January 2013

US - National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson has responded to a new round of criticisms that federal crop insurance programmes chiefly benefit insurance companies and large farmers, claiming that the current system of crop insurance does a good job of helping farmers and ranchers to manage their risks of bad yields and low incomes.

Mr Johnson said: "Crop insurance, particularly revenue protections, should not be considered a replacement for fair market prices.

“Last summer’s drought was devastating for many farmers around the country, but the damage was not as catastrophic as it was in other bad years, like the 1988 drought, largely because the crop insurance system provided a vitally necessary backstop. Only 55.8 million acres of major crops were covered by crop insurance in 1988, while in 2011, a total of 265.4 million were insured. More farmers carry crop insurance coverage today so that they might be able to stay in business through tough times.

“NFU also believes that crop insurance subsidies, like other safety net programs, should be targeted to family-sized farmers.

Mr Johnson continued: “NFU has supported reasonable limits on the amount of crop insurance premium subsidies that farmers can receive. During the Senate consideration of the 2012 Farm Bill, NFU supported an amendment that would have reduced premium subsidies by 15 per cent for farms with adjusted gross incomes greater than $750,000. This would have saved $1.2 billion over 10 years. Furthermore, NFU policy supports a limit of $75,000 worth of crop insurance premium subsidies that one farmer can receive in a year.”

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