April 12, 2013
In This Issue:
Your Voice in

Greg Mills, CIRB Chairman

Next week, CIRB will be seen and heard on Capitol Hill when our Executive Committee meets with decision makers in Congress and USDA to speak out for the crop insurance and reinsurance community.

Our core message: Congress should support effective, affordable crop insurance protection for farmers and ranchers and oppose changes that would discourage producer participation or undermine private sector delivery.  

With the release of the President's budget this week and farm bill negotiations likely to heat up soon, our fly-in couldn't be timelier. CIRB leaders will meet with more than 35 Congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership, committee offices, friends, and critics.

Click here to continue reading about CIRB's upcoming fly-in priorities.

Return from Recess, Fly In Next Week

Your CIRB Washington Update returns today after a two-week Congressional recess.

CIRB staff look forward to welcoming the CIRB leaders to D.C. next week for an Executive Committee meeting and fly-in. Read the feature column from CIRB Chairman Greg Mills to learn more about next week's plans.

Farm Bill Status  

Budget, immigration reform, and gun control have dominated the conversation in D.C. this week.

However, farm groups and leaders remain focused on farm bill negotiations, which may occur during the next month.

In a recent interview, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) discussed Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow's (D-MI) commitment to moving a farm bill.

 "We're hoping that by the end of the month we will have a Farm Bill that will be ready for floor action- we want to move it as soon as possible," Sen. Heitkamp said.

President's Budget Released 

President Obama's budget plan was released on Wednesday and includes several legislative proposals that impact crop insurance.

The President's Budget specifies a reduction of the premium subsidy and decreases the government's share of the administrative cost. It also states that insurers should be held to a "reasonable rate of return" on crop insurance.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration's proposal to cut crop insurance is expected to face strong opposition. Last year the Senate voted to increase spending on crop insurance protection by $2.7 billion over 10 years. CIRB, AACI, and NCIS provided a joint response to the budget.

This week, American Farm Bureau Federation economist Matt Erickson criticized that disconnect, saying that the President's proposal leaves a lot of uncertainty for agriculture.

Roberts Introduces Crop Insurance Bill 

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) introduced a crop insurance bill on Tuesday as a marker before the Senate Agriculture Committee holds a farm bill markup. It is essentially the crop insurance language from last year's Senate-passed farm bill, with termination of direct payments serving as a budgetary offset.

AFBF Farm Bill Proposal

The American Farm Bureau Federation announced its updated farm bill priorities this week. One of its core principles is to "protect and strengthen the federal crop insurance program and do not reduce its funding."  Crop insurance proposals are discussed on pages 3-5 and 8-9.

This includes providing a modified STAX crop insurance enhancement program for all row crops, apples, potatoes, tomatoes, grapes, and sweet corn.  AFBF also notes its opposition to means testing and conservation compliance for crop insurance.

Listen to an interview on AFBF's proposal with Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Congressional Relations Director, here.  

"Just the Facts" About Crop Insurance

National Crop Insurance Services has released a detailed question-and-answer resource laying out the facts about crop insurance and dispelling some of the most common arguments against crop insurance put forth by its critics. The series covers important topics such as how crop insurance benefits the public, economics of the industry, the globalization of risk management, benefits to producers, and many other important issues.

Drought Continues

InsideClimate News reports that the 2013 drought season is already off to a worse start than in 2012 or 2011 -- a trend that scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say is a good indicator, based on historical records, that the entire year will be drier than last year. 

Crop Insurance Policy Symposium Scheduled

The Agriculture and Applied Economics association will host "The Crop Insurance and the Farm Bill: A New Paradigm in U.S. Agricultural Policy Symposium" on October 8-9, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. The effects and impacts of the proposed shift to crop insurance as the primary tool for risk management in agriculture will be examined and assessed.  Abstracts are currently being accepted.

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