Kansas farmer testifies on importance of farm safety net

Posted July 26, 2017

David Schemm, Kansas wheat farmer and NAWG president, testifies on the importance of the farm safety net for the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

David Schemm, Kansas wheat farmer and NAWG president, testifies on the importance of the farm safety net for the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing titled “Commodities, Credit, and Crop Insurance: Perspectives on Risk Management Tools and Trends for the 2018 Farm Bill.” National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President and Kansas farmer David Schemm testified to the Committee on the need for growers to have access to a strong safety net and risk management system.

“Between record low commodity prices, unfair trade practices in the global market, disease issues, and extreme weather, wheat farmers across the nation are experiencing the toughest economic conditions they have faced since the 1980s,” stated David Schemm. “Fortunately, programs authorized in the 2014 the Farm Bill, specifically crop insurance, have enabled farmers to be able to farm another year when prices collapse or disaster strikes.”

“The federal crop insurance program, which requires a farmer to pay a premium, is structured in a way that the producer has to suffer an indemnifiable loss before they get any sort of payment,” continued Schemm. “A farmer could go years paying premiums for a policy and rarely get an indemnity; and, in truth, a farmer would much rather get a return on their commodity than become eligible for an indemnity.”

In addition to crop insurance, Title 1 programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) have also served as key safety net programs that are limited and kick in for losses not covered by crop insurance. As such, NAWG urges Congress to continue to allow a producer choice between revenue protection and price protection.  With growing and marketing conditions that can vary across the country, maintaining a choice in programs is critical. Additionally, NAWG supports adjustments to ARC to enable it to continue to function as a safety net moving forward as well as an increase in the PLC wheat reference price to better reflect modern production expenses.

“The discussion surrounding the Farm Bill is very important to Kansas wheat farmers, and we are very fortunate to be represented at the national level by fellow Kansan, David Schemm,” said Daniel Heady, director of governmental affairs for the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. “It’s critical that farmers have their voice heard in Washington, and we’re pleased to have great partnerships with national organizations like NAWG and our Kansas congressional members, like Senator Pat Roberts, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture.”

Additional panelists included growers, agriculture industry representatives, and crop insurance company representation. Visit the Committee site for a complete list of the panels.

NAWG is the primary representative in Washington D.C. for wheat growers, working to ensure a better future for America’s growers, the industry and the general public. NAWG works with a team of 20 state wheat grower organizations to benefit the wheat industry at state and national levels. From their offices in the Wheat Growers Building on Capitol Hill, NAWG’s staff members are in constant contact with state association representatives, NAWG grower leaders, Members of Congress, Congressional staff members and the public. For more information on the National Association of Wheat Growers, please visit www.wheatworld.org.

David Schemm, Kansas wheat farmer and NAWG president, testifies on the importance of the farm safety net for the Senate Committee on Agriculture.