Wheat growers support crop insurance, farm bill

Posted April 19, 2018

On April 18, 2018, the House Committee on Agriculture marked-up its version of the 2018 Farm Bill, or H.R. 2 Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018.

With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in the House Agriculture Committee, Kansas wheat farmers continue to prioritize the need for crop insurance.

Crop insurance is a successful public-private partnership, and unlike other farm programs or ad hoc disaster assistance that is 100% paid for by the taxpayer, the cost of the crop insurance program is shared by farmers, private sector companies, and the government. Crop insurance enables farmers to rebound quickly after disaster and allows producers to pay credit obligations and other input expenses, such as fertilizer or farm equipment.

According to the Kansas Farm Management Association, net farm income in Kansas has dropped 73% since 2012. In 2016, 35% of Kansas farms lost money, and 16% of all Kansas farms lost $50,000 or more. While revenues have gone down, the cost of production and expenses have gone up.

Daniel Heady, Director of Government Affairs for the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, says, “These issues and conditions reiterate our need for an effective farm bill for our Kansas farmers. Without crop insurance and title 1 programs, farmers would be left without a safety net to keep them afloat during times of drought, and hard economic times such as these.”

In the Trade Title, this proposed House bill consolidates export market development programs into the International Market Development Program that includes Foreign Market Development (FMD), Market Access Program (MAP), Emerging Markets Program and Trade Assistance for Specialty Crops components. The consolidated program includes language that maintains a budget baseline for the FMD component –and provides continued funding for FMD and the MAP component at their current annual levels. This is great news for U.S. wheat farmers. Wheat growers continue to support increased funding for MAP and FMD. Both programs have been incredibly effective tools and have proven significant returns on investment and can be even more effective with more resources.

“The National Association of Wheat Growers commends the House Agriculture Committee on continuing to move the Farm Bill forward and urges a bipartisan process to enable a bill to pass out of the House,” said NAWG President Jimmie Musick. “In order for the bill to be completed and reauthorized this year, Republicans and Democrats must work together on legislation that works for both sides and all of agriculture.

“There are several provisions in H.R. 2 that will be good for wheat growers, and NAWG will continue to work with Congress to make improvements. Absolutely our top priority throughout this process is to maintain a strong crop insurance program. NAWG also envisions a well-rounded Farm Bill to have a strong safety net program which allows producers to choose between revenue-based (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and price-based (Price Loss Coverage) coverage, and improvements to both programs to enable them to serve as a better safety net for wheat growers.

“We applaud the Committee for including funding for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program and will continue working to increase resources for both. Additionally, NAWG supports provisions that provide financial incentives for farmers to adopt conservation practices into their operations. The bill also rightly reauthorizes the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative and other important research programs that will help wheat growers continue to produce the highest quality crop.

“Again, we are pleased that the House has started the Farm Bill reauthorization process and encourage the Senate Committee on Agriculture to do the same,” Musick concluded.