Land Stewardship report calls for crop insurance changes
MINNEAPOLIS — The nation’s biggest farm “safety net” has evolved into a program that harms family farms, the land and rural communities, while bolstering profits for major insurance companies, including one headquartered in Minnesota. That’s the conclusion of “Crop Insurance: A Torn Safety Net,” a special report released by the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) this week.
Federal crop insurance was started in 1938 as a way to prevent U.S. farmers from being wiped out by weather disasters. Budget-wise, crop insurance is now the biggest agricultural program in the federal Farm Bill.
“Broken and mis-directed federal farm policy, like the crop insurance program, is contributing to the loss of family farms and the emptying of rural communities. This is not an inevitable outcome but a choice made by Congress, influenced heavily by major multinational insurance corporations and their allies,” concluded the report, which is based on a combination of research of public records and personal testimony from farmers.
The report states:
– Federal crop insurance is the only Farm Bill subsidy program without per-farm subsidy limits.
– Federal crop insurance discourages farming pratices that build soil health, increase crop disversificiation and prevent eriosion and nutrient run-off.
– Since 2013, national median farm income has been negative-farmers are losing money. However, during the past four years crop insurance companies have seen their profits skyrocket, thanks in part to $14.8 billion in public funds given to them over the past decade to administer the insurance program.
– The crop insurance industry has worked hard to protect its profits. For example, the insurance industry gave $711,302 to members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation while the last Farm Bill was being drafted.
The release of the LSP report comes at a time when Congressional agriculture leaders, including five members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation, are beginning to draft the 2018 version of the Farm Bill. This provides a prime opportunity to reform crop insurance by placing limits on premium subsidies and ending the exorbitant profitmaking insurance corporations enjoy as a result of the publicly funded program.
“Do politicians work for family farmers and people, or do they work for agribusiness and insurance companies?” asked Franklin, dairy farmer James Kanne.
For a copy of “Crop Insurance: A Torn Safety Net-Why the Farm Bill’s Biggest Program is a Boon to Corporations and a Bust for Family Farmers and the Land,” see www.landstewardshipproject.org/organizingforchange/cropinsurance.