The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big "I") today testified in a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management titled, "Formulation of the 2012 Farm Bill: Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance."
Brian McSherry, an independent agent from Illinois and Big "I" Crop Insurance Task Force chairman, represented the association. He is the owner of the McSherry Agency in Pontiac, Ill. and also a member of the Big "I" Government Affairs Committee.
McSherry testified in strong support of a healthy farm safety net and spoke out against additional cuts to the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) in the upcoming Farm Bill negotiations. He also highlighted the negative impact of the agent commission caps implemented in the 2011 Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA) and focused on the caps effect on rural economies and small business owners.
In summary, his message to Congress was, "that while the Big 'I' supports the overall goal of balancing the federal budget, the Big 'I' believes that the crop insurance program has already sustained a disproportionate level of cuts." Over the past four years, cuts to the program totaling $12 billion have been made.
In his testimony, McSherry also emphasized that independent agents must have the resources necessary to effectively provide this crucial safety net for America's farmers. He said that any FCIP reforms should focus on private sector delivery mechanisms and leverage the expertise of independent agents and not hand over delivery of the program to federal bureaucrats.
McSherry forcefully highlighted the IIABA's serious concerns with the 2011 SRA and in particular the 80% cap imposed on the compensation a private company may pay private agents for the delivery of crop insurance. He said that the program cuts, along with the commission cap, have created great uncertainty with respect to the future of the program and are having a destabilizing effect on jobs, particularly in rural communities. McSherry said the Big "I" strongly believes the 80% commission cap should be removed.
To read McSherry's written statement click HERE