Bennet, Marshall Introduce Bill to Improve Crop Insurance for Farmers Experiencing Drought



Denver — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R- Kan.) introduced legislation to improve the flexibility of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) crop insurance programs for wheat farmers amid historic drought. This legislation is similar to the 2014 Farm Bill provision providing for separate enterprise units for irrigated and non-irrigated acreage of crops.

“As Colorado’s farmers face uncertainty from forces beyond their control – from severe drought to a broken immigration system – many of them look to the Federal Crop Insurance Program to help manage risk and keep their family farms running,” said Bennet. “This new drought flexibility in the farm safety net will make it easier for farmers in Colorado and across the West to weather difficult times and pass their family farms to the next generation.”

“The 1200 year drought in the Western United States has hit the Breadbasket of America, my wheat farmers in Kansas, especially hard, the extreme and exceptional drought in Kansas has the forecast for wheat yields looking very bleak,” said Marshall. “While this bill can’t make it rain, it does provide flexibility to wheat farmers who need all the help they can to insure their wheat and their livelihood.”

Currently, farmers do not have the option through the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) to separately insure wheat enterprise units by fallow or continuous production, and must combine them — limiting farmers’ ability to benefit from federal crop insurance programs. This bill would direct the RMA to provide more options to wheat farmers and ensure that both fallow and continuously grown crops can be covered.

“Crop insurance as a vital tool for farmers was really highlighted this past year with the severe drought we faced.  The ability to insure continuous wheat in a separate enterprise unit from wheat that follows a fallow period would provide a more accurate safety net in counties where continuous wheat is insurable.  The lower yield expectations of continuous wheat wouldn’t lower the growers Actual Production History (APH) on their fallow acres. Farmers would be more incentivized to attempt a continuous wheat crop in years where the moisture is available, thereby feeling more confident in the business decision about which crop to plant. Ultimately, it improves crop insurance, which is the Colorado Association of Wheat Grower’s top priority in the next Farm Bill,” said Brad Erker, Executive Director, Colorado Association of Wheat Growers.

“The National Association of Wheat Growers appreciates the work that Senators Bennet and Marshall put into helping give wheat farmers a better, more flexible safety net. This bill allows farmer’s crop insurance coverages to be more reflective of their cropping systems. Many farmers use a fallow rotation to manage pests, and take care of their ground,” said Jake Westlin, NAWG Vice President of Policy and Communications. “Allowing Enterprise Units to be separated based on fallow and continuous cropping systems is a continuation of the evolution of Enterprise Units. NAWG thanks the Senators’ efforts and looks forward to getting this bill included in the Farm Bill.”

As Chair of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Bennet is focused on addressing drought, improving our country’s conservation and forestry programs, and giving our farmers and ranchers the tools they need in the upcoming Farm Bill.

Filed Under: AgricultureEconomyEnvironmentFeaturedMedia Release


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