Crop insurers' returns have been negatively affected by renegotiated standard reinsurance agreement rates, leading many to question whether insurers will continue to stay in the program, according to a study commissioned by the National Corn Growers Association. Private crop insurers saw returns of 14.1% between 1998 and 2010, but that number fell to just 1.5% between 2011 and 2015, the study found.
Advocates for farmers and lenders sent letters to Congressional stakeholders last week, supporting protection of crop insurance as the latest farm bill is drafted. "Farmers and lawmakers agree that crop insurance is a linchpin of the farm safety net and is crucial to the economic security of rural America," said the letter, which was signed by groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cotton Council.
On March 23, the Senate Agriculture Committee will conduct a hearing to consider the nomination of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the agriculture secretary nominee. Perdue's business interests, including partial ownership of a grain merchandising company, may have been factors in confirmation process delays.
The crop insurance program must be reinforced through a 2018 farm bill focused on long-term solutions, writes Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn. The safety net in the previous farm bill was established based on high crop prices, but those numbers are no longer relevant in the face of today's farming conditions, he writes.
Even though farming now is vastly different from farming in the 1950s, it is wise to learn from the cyclical nature of agricultural policymaking, writes Jonathan Coppess of the University of Illinois. Change is sometimes more successful when approached incrementally, and regional commodity policy disputes can be particularly challenging.
A National Agricultural Statistical Service report utilized data from 1972 through 2016 to project corn and soybean yields, but higher- or lower-than average actual yields last year in many areas affected grain farm incomes. "Above trend yields result in higher incomes in the western corn belt and below trend yields result in lower incomes in the eastern corn belt," writes Gary Schnitkey of the University of Illinois.
Lower wheat prices resulting from wet weather may reduce corn and soybean prices, according to Brian Hoops of Midwest Marketing Solutions. Soybean price predictions are also adversely affected by projections from the USDA Outlook Conference in Washington, D.C., which said that acreage dedicated to soybeans is likely to increase.
By becoming the 143rd UN Food and Agriculture Organization seed treaty member last week, the US will enhance research on drought resistance by adding "more than 570,000 types of maize, wheat, potatoes and other crops" to the existing 1.5 million crop gene bank varieties. A portion of profits from plants created from a treaty partner contribution will be contributed to a trust fund benefiting farmers in developing countries.