Big ‘I’ Fights Cuts to Crop Insurance in President’s Budget

In anticipation of President Trump’s budget outline, the Big “I,” along with the D.C Agriculture Coalition, sent letters to top decision-makers in Washington, D.C. The letters outline opposition to proposed cuts to the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) in the President’s budget, as part of the congressional budget process, and as part of the appropriations process.

Sonny Perdue, Secretary-Designate of the United States Department of Agriculture; Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget; and the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations and Budget Committees received the correspondence.

The letters highlight that the 2014 Farm Bill made a multitude of cuts to this critical farm safety net. In addition to these cuts, the Congressional Budget Office projects that crop insurance will be more than $20 billion under budget compared to the costs projected when the 2014 Farm Bill passed. The letters caution that an overreliance on savings from the agriculture community will greatly undermine rural economies, and emphasize that crop insurance is an effective risk management tool that reduces taxpayer exposure to the constant demand for ad hoc disaster assistance.

The letters also express opposition to further cuts to the FCIP in the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill. The Big “I” expects Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin) to introduce legislation that attempts to severely limit farmer participation and cut critical resources for the crop program. The Big “I” will strongly oppose this misguided legislation which reduces participation in the crop program by singling out certain farmers based on size or crop value production.

The bill will also aim to reduce the overall risk pool for crop insurance and increase premiums on all farmers. Known as the “AFFIRM Act,” the legislation will also attempt to cut necessary resources that ensure efficient and effective delivery of crop insurance policies to farmers and ranchers across the country. American farmers collectively spend approximately $3.5-4 billion per year of their hard-earned money to purchase insurance from the private sector, and the Big “I” will continue to defend this important risk management tool.

Protecting the FCIP in the 2018 Farm Bill and ensuring that agents remain the sole sales force of the program will be a top priority at the upcoming Big “I” Legislative Conference, to take place May 3-5 in Washington, D.C.

Jen McPhillips is Big “I” vice president of federal government affairs.