Land Stewardship Project Outlines Major Reforms for Making the Nation’s Largest Ag Program an Accountable & Reliable Safety Net for All Producers
“In terms of land prices and the amount of money we had, it has not been economically feasible at all to start our farm business,” said Hanson. “We just realized that even if we could scrape together the money, get a loan and buy land, then we would have no money to start the farm.”
Along with its third white paper on crop insurance, LSP today released “Principles of Reform for Crop Insurance.” Among other things, LSP is calling for crop insurance that is more transparent and accountable when it comes to reimbursement payments made to insurance companies. LSP is also calling for limits on how much individual producers can benefit from the program. High crop insurance premium subsidies, in particular, are having a negative impact by creating an artificially large market for insurance companies and promoting the farming of environmentally sensitive land, according to LSP’s research.
In recent months, both the U.S Government Accounting office and the Congressional Budget Office have highlighted a reduction of premium subsidies as a key way to make the crop insurance program more accountable.
“We need to cut back on premium subsidies and when they are offered at higher levels they should be tied to significant levels of crop diversity and resource conserving crop rotations,” said Nuessmeier. “That makes sense for the taxpayer and it makes sense for the land.”
The 2014 Farm Bill made some improvements in the way crop insurance can be utilized by beginning farmers as well as those who plant a diversity of crops and have organic systems in place. These are good steps, but major reforms are needed if crop insurance is to return to its roots as a basic safety net accessible and useful to all farmers raising any kind of crop, according to Schultz.
“The public interest is overwhelmingly on the side of major reform, while the interests of big agribusiness and the country’s largest crop operations stands against it,” he said. “Just because the current crop insurance system has been taken over by insurance corporations and the largest producers of a few favored crops doesn’t mean only their voices count. Federal farm policy, and the public money spent on it, affects everyone. We all have a voice when it comes to bringing about reform.”
“How Crop Insurance Hurts the Next Generation of Farmers” is number three in a series of three LSP “Crop Insurance–How a Safety Net Became a Farm Policy Disaster” white papers. The white papers, as well as LSP’s “Principles of Reform” document, are atwww.landstewardshipproject.