Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) spoke to Big “I” members about working with them on the Federal Crop Insurance Program, and the importance of independent insurance agents in keeping the nation's economy strong and growing.
Yesterday, during the 2023 Big “I" Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) addressed Big “I" members about the importance of crop insurance and independent insurance agents who help keep the nation's economy strong and growing.
First elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, Sen. Tester is chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. He is also a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; the Indian Affairs Committee; and the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over the insurance marketplace, as well as the Appropriations Committee, one of the most influential committees in Congress.
Sen. Tester was introduced by Nathan Riedel, Big “I" vice president, political affairs. “In many ways, family farms are similar to thousands of independent insurance agents and agencies across the country that are family owned and operated and an important fabric of this wonderful county," Riedel said. “Perhaps that's why Sen. Tester knows you all so well and, during his nearly 18 years in the U.S. Senate, he's been a strong champion on important issues such as agent licensing reform and protecting the federal crop insurance program."
Sen. Tester and his wife Sharla continue to farm the land near Big Sandy, Montana, homesteaded by his grandparents in 1912. “I think back to the time my grandfather had to make the decision [to stay or leave], since there was no safety net, there was no farm bill, and there was no crop insurance," Tester said. “And as we sign a new farm bill this year, the crop insurance part is going to be very important, and I know you are giving input. If you are able to do that, we'll end up with a good farm bill."
Speaking to hundreds of agents before they headed to Capitol Hill to meet with their congressional representatives, Sen. Tester affirmed that he would require their input to support a strong and stable crop insurance system.
“I guarantee that I will work with you to make sure that our federal crop insurance program is all it needs to be," he said. “In order to do that, we need to nominate and confirm board members that oversee the association of registered agents and brokers. It is way past time."
“We have to cut red tape and make it easier for insurance producers to conduct business across states," he added.
Sen. Tester has made it his top priority to stay connected to the farming community he represents and to protect and preserve the special way of life in communities like in his home state of Montana.
“I speak from experience on this one when I say the agent is really important. I have insurance for the same reason everybody has insurance, to manage risk and to help provide stability," Sen. Tester said.
“The agent is important as somebody that I can talk to, somebody that understands me, who understands my operation," he added. “Thank you for the critical role that you play in supporting our rural economies all across this country."
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.