While Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., steps up his efforts to reform and strengthen crop insurance, the National Crop Insurance Services works to resolve confusion about the program through a factsheet released Tuesday.
Sen. Roberts' latest push likely coincides with rumors that Congress is set to begin farm bill markup early this spring – something Roberts isn't shy about mentioning.
"Time after time, we are told by producers that crop insurance is the single most important program that helps them when disasters strike," Roberts said in a press statement Tuesday. "As debate begins again on a five year farm bill, I have introduced this bill to ensure crop insurance is protected and improved while at the same time saving billions of taxpayer dollars and ensuring a safe and affordable food supply."
Roberts says the preliminary Congressional Budget Office score of his plan indicates it offers taxpayer savings of $5.3 billion over 10 years.
The bill expands coverage for producers through a Supplemental Coverage Option based on an area yield and loss basis, and also amends the Federal Crop Insurance Act to make available separate enterprise units for irrigated and non-irrigated acreages of crops in counties.
Further, Roberts' bill addresses the declining Actual Production History yield issue by increasing the county transitional yield and setting budget limitations on future renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement. His proposal requires any savings realized in SRA renegotiations to return to Risk Management Agency programs.
The legislation also continues the Stacked Income Protection Plan, known as STAX, for producers of upland cotton.
"After three years of serious drought, it is not because of an agriculture ad hoc disaster package that farmers are back on their feet," Roberts said. "These farmers are able to put seeds in the ground again because they managed their risk and protected their operations through the purchase of crop insurance. This is the one component of the farm safety net that requires a producer to have skin in the game."
National Crop Insurance Services President Tom Zacharias, not surprisingly, agrees, calling crop insurance the "single most important risk management tool available to farmers today."
NCIS released a fact sheet regarding the program Tuesday to show the public and legislators what the program has to offer. Titled "Crop Insurance: Just the Facts," the web Q&A covers topics such as economics of the industry, the globalization of risk management and the program's benefits to producers.
Zacharias says even though farmers spent more than $4.1 billion to purchase crop insurance last year, there is a lot of misinformation and misrepresentation about the program.
Click here to read the Crop Insurance: Just the Facts webpage.