After months on a path paved with uncertainty, the fate of the 2018 Farm Bill has become clear and agricultural and nutrition policy is now set through 2023. The House and Senate passed the final version with strong, bipartisan votes, and it has been signed into law by President Trump.
The 2018 Farm Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation. Zurich North America and Rural Community Insurance Services joined nearly 500 organizations in voicing support for this legislation, which according to the letter, “supports farmers and ranchers, protects crop insurance and conservation programs, invests in efforts to expand foreign markets, protects animal health and prioritizes agricultural research and rural development.”
Every day, farmers and ranchers undertake the extraordinary task of producing food, fiber, feed, and fuel for a growing world population. Crop insurance is a key component of their risk management portfolios, and it is critically important they have access to affordable crop insurance coverage that is delivered in a timely and personalized manner by the private sector.
During the Farm Bill reauthorization process in the House and Senate, crop insurance – and the farmers and ranchers it protects – faced serious threats. Eleven amendments were filed that would have negatively impacted affordability of crop insurance by farmers and ranchers. Two amendments were filed that would have negatively impacted service provided by private sector agents and providers. Thanks to the efforts of many agricultural stakeholders and champions on Capitol Hill, these harmful proposals were not included in the final package.
The 2018 Farm Bill includes provisions to:
- Expand the current boundaries of crop insurance by reviewing possibilities for new coverage, including for crops such as hemp
- Extend certain benefits to veteran farmers and ranchers
- Focus efforts on specialty crop coverage, including for losses due to tropical storms or hurricanes
- Encourage more meaningful buy-up coverage by increasing the fee for catastrophic coverage
We appreciate the efforts of many policymakers on both sides of the aisle who worked to protect crop insurance and private sector delivery. The four principals – Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, and Ranking Member Collin Peterson – and their staffs dedicated countless hours of effort into making the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill possible.
Even though the Farm Bill reauthorization is complete, it is important to note that the critics will not go away and battles will lie ahead. As a result of the mid-term congressional elections in November, a number of new policymakers will take office in the House and Senate in January 2019. Relationship building, outreach, and education of these elected officials and their staffs about the importance of crop insurance and private sector delivery will be critical in protecting this risk management tool.