During the annual meeting of the American Association of Crop Insurers and the National Crop Insurance Services this week in Florida, members of Congress and several ag groups pledged support for crop insurance and ensuring its continuation.
"We want crop insurance for all commodities in all states. It's very clear every commodity wants to have crop insurance," said American Farm Bureau Federation's Mary Kay Thatcher told attendees.
The message was consistent with a letter that more than 30 groups sent to Congressional committees last week expressing disappointment in the president's budget proposal, which featured planned funding cuts for crop insurance.
The groups encouraged Congressional leaders to look elsewhere when they prepare their own budget plans. In the letter, they explained "budget levels currently in place for crop insurance ensure the affordability and availability of risk protection, while maintaining the viability of private-sector delivery."
Panelists representing ag groups stressed the importance of sticking together and building alliances to make sure crop insurers can continue to offer a variety of options to farmers.
"Our focus in the years to come will be defending what we have," said Robbie Minnich of the National Cotton Council of America.
Members of Congress also shared with meeting attendees plans to protect crop insurance. Via taped videos, Sen. Pat Roberts, Senate Ag Committee chairman, and Rep. K. Michael Conaway, the chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, said the 2014 Farm Bill is the key piece of legislation that has ensured risk management tools are available to farmers.
"Crop insurance is the cornerstone of the farm safety net," Roberts said. "You have my word to continue to protect, preserve, and improve the number one risk management tool in every farmer's toolbox."
Both leaders also warned about the challenges ahead and stressed the need to work as a team to stave off attacks.
"The critics of farm policy and crop insurance are not going to go away," Conaway said. "Despite some $17 billion in cuts to crop insurance, some are pushing for even more. They bill it as reform, but we all know their real end game is to kill crop insurance."
Roberts added, "Together we must be ready and willing to tell stories of the great successes" of crop insurance.