Subsidized crop insurance is not charity [Opinion] | Agribusiness and agritourism news

December brought a harsh reality to the eyes of many across the country. When the weather is bad, it can get really miserable almost everywhere.

Snow Cyclone Bomb Elliot stretched from Mountain West to the East Coast and down into the Gulf Coast states. While a storm of this magnitude is rare, they are becoming more common. Adverse weather is a variable that all farmers and ranchers know to expect.

Montana and northern Idaho were the first to confront Elliot. It brought temperatures below minus 20 degrees. I spoke to a farmer about 10 miles south of the Canadian border and he said it hadn’t gotten below 30 for a few days. Of course, the storm continued to move east and south. In the second half of December I spoke to several farmers across the country. It didn’t matter if the farmers lived in Kansas, southern Indiana, Wisconsin, or upstate New York. All faced adverse conditions. In Jackson, Mississippi, it was even below freezing.

This storm not only affected the day-to-day operations of the farmers, but also the trucking. Being a rancher made it easy for me to simply not ship animals during this storm, but dairy farmers have to ship milk almost every day. This storm created a trucking nightmare. In upstate New York, milk had to be dumped into manure pits. Dairy processing plants were closed in the Buffalo area, only making the situation worse.

Farmers of all kinds are at the mercy of the weather. We always have been and always will be. It seems like every year at least part of the country goes through weather events that negatively affect the bottom line.

This is why federal crop insurance is so important.

While insurance never makes a farmer whole financially, it definitely cushions the blow. It can be drought, flood, frost, fire or hail; After all, every farmer can use insurance. For example, last year in central Montana we had our second year of extreme drought. We’ve gone from a third of a normal hay crop in 2021 to a quarter of a crop in 2022. Luckily we have insurance so we can continue raising cattle. We buy twice as much hay as in 2021. This is on top of that our cow is heard about 40% less. The USDA also helps financially with some of the costs of hauling hay. FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux even changed the rules to subsidize the transportation of ranchers who wanted to take their livestock to where there is forage instead of taking the forage to the cows. It is good that the USDA is showing flexibility in supporting agricultural producers.

A new farm bill will be debated in Congress this year. We all need to reach out to our senators and representatives and urge them to continue the safety net that is federal crop insurance and stress that they must continue insurance subsidies. According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, crop insurance was subsidized in the current Farm Bill at an average rate of 60%.

We need to remind Congress of the importance of keeping family farms running. Farmers don’t ask for handouts, we ask for help when the weather wreaks havoc – much like hurricanes and fires damage homes and businesses.

We must remind Congress that food security is a national issue and that it is in our national interest to keep family farms thriving.