Cutting the Cost of Crop Insurance May Figure in New Farm Bill

(Radio Iowa) Fourth District Congressman Randy Feenstra says he’s focusing part of the new Farm Bill on the cost of crop insurance. Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, says the expense of crop insurance is a major barrier to young farmers who are just getting started in production agriculture.

“There’s this big push where China and other countries are buying our farmland and the reason that’s happening is because that next generation cannot afford or cannot buy that land from their parents,” Feenstra says. “One of the big problems is the input costs.” Feenstra says he and the other members of the House Agriculture Committee are considering discounts on crop insurance for those farmers who are just starting off.

“A new beginning farmer for the first five years, you get up to a 15% discount on their crop insurance to lower that input, so we can keep that farmland in Iowa and with the Iowa farmer,” Feenstra says, “and then it slowly ratchets down after five years, four years, three years, it goes from 15% down to 10%.” Crop insurance is one of the biggest input costs farmers pay each year and he says some may choose 85-percent coverage, or even as low as 70-percent.

“Because of the costs, a lot of farmers are going down to that lower amount and that’s where operational loans from the bank, they get a little concerned,” Feenstra says. “You have a big hail out or a catastrophic event, then all of the sudden, you put yourself in peril because you only have X-percent of coverage for that crop.” Feenstra says the largest part of the Farm Bill is food programs, including SNAP. He says farm state members of the committee want to make the program more efficient as SNAP payments have exploded in recent years.

(John Sleggers, KLEM, Le Mars)