Groups Craft Crop Insurance Compromise

A diverse group of 44 conservation, environmental, crop insurance and agricultural organizations have come together in distributing a position paper that outlines a compromise to link conservation compliance and crop insurance premium assistance and to oppose means testing, payment limitations or premium subsidy reductions for the crop insurance program. The recommendations have been submitted to the leadership of both Agriculture Committees for their consideration during the new farm bill debate. According to a letter to the Senate Ag leaders - the position provides an effective farm and natural resource safety net.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says his group is convinced the agreement will move the farm bill forward. He says it's a balanced agreement that provides fairness and a measure of certainty to farmers regarding the availability of risk management tools - while at the same time - helping to conserve natural resources. Stallman calls it a win-win situation reached by a group of organizations that came together under a banner of commonsense and collaboration.

According to the letter - each of the groups involved has committed to not support amendments beyond this compromise that might weaken the crop insurance program or amendments that might not link conservation compliance with crop insurance premium assistance. Stallman notes much of agriculture fought the compliance amendment during last year's Senate farm bill debate. But he says the desire to avoid a time-consuming and contentious debate helped build a consensus around rational provisions that protect farmers while furthering the conservation of natural resources.

Stallman points out that the agreement does not propose to change current conservation compliance requirements. He says the recommendations only apply to the linkage of conservation compliance and crop insurance premium assistance or availability. Under the recommendations - crop insurance would still be available to help farmers manage their risks and meet the requirements of their lenders. But under certain circumstances - if a farmer is found to be out of compliance with conservation mandates - his or her eligibility for premium assistance would be eliminated until compliance conditions are satisfied. According to Stallman - this approach to re-linking crop insurance and conservation compliance should provide USDA sufficient flexibility to work with farmers to ensure compliance in a balanced, fair manner.

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