Letter to Congress: Make Common Sense Reforms to Crop Insurance

May 16, 2013

Dear Senators and Representatives:

Our organizations strongly support common sense crop insurance reforms and urge you to support amendments designed to provide farmers an equitable and fiscally responsible safety net.

Taxpayers pay for the majority of crop insurance premiums.  Unlike other farm supports, however, crop insurance is not subject to payment limits, means testing, or conservation requirements. As a result, some crop insurance policy holders annually receive more than $1 million in premium support and more than 10,000 annually receive more than $100,000 in premium support.  By contrast, 80 percent of farmers receive about $5,000 in premium support, tilting the playing field in favor of the largest and most profitable operations  and harming family farmers.

In addition, unlimited crop insurance subsidies encourage landowners to convert wetlands and grasslands they would not farm if they were simply responding to market forces. In recent years, farmers and farmland investment companies have plowed up millions of acres of wetlands and grasslands, which reduces habitat for wildlife, releases more carbon, and compounds our water quality challenges.

We believe that crop insurance is a critical component of the farm safety net and warrants support from taxpayers. However, we believe that reforms designed to require basic environmental protection, improve transparency, and place reasonable limits on the amount of premium subsidies for the largest and most profitable farm businesses would have no impact on program participation but would create a more equitable, sustainable, and fiscally responsible safety net.

We urge you to strengthen the federal crop insurance program by supporting common sense reforms, including proposals designed to strengthen America’s family farms while making crop insurance more equitable, transparent, and fiscally responsible.

Signed,

Center for Rural Affairs
Defenders of Wildlife 
Environmental Working Group
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

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