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  • Tuesday, February 16, 2016 10:44 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    For more information contact Jeff Harrison at jeff@combest-sell.com.  

     

     

    Crop Insurance Support Among Farmers Nearly Unanimous

     

    (INDIAN WELLS, Calif.)—Almost every farmer who uses crop insurance supports the risk management tool and opposes legislative attempts to undermine it.  That’s according to a new study conducted by the Crop Insurance Professionals Association (CIPA), which was released at this week’s annual crop insurance convention.

     

    Crop insurance agents represented by CIPA delivered the survey to their customers, and more than 1,300 farmers, growing 20 different crops in 26 states, responded.  Among the results:

     

    • 96 percent oppose funding cuts to crop insurance like the one recently proposed in the White House’s FY2017 budget request;
    • 97 percent oppose reopening the 2014 Farm Bill to change crop insurance;
    • 94 percent oppose the AFFIRM Act, a legislative proposal introduced last year to reduce crop insurance benefits and limit coverage options;
    • 97 percent prefer that crop insurance be administered by the private sector instead of the government;
    • 93 percent said their banks demand crop insurance coverage before extending needed operating capital; and
    • 99 percent noted that current low commodity prices and extreme weather make crop insurance coverage a necessity.

    “It is clear that farmers depend on crop insurance and are willing to fight to defend a policy that helps them combat extreme weather and volatile markets,” said William Cole, an agent from Batesville, Mississippi and current chairman of CIPA.  “Farmers made their support very clear late last year when they rallied together to beat back attempts by some in Congress to erode the current system.”

     

    The survey also took on two vocal farm policy opponents that are working to undermine crop insurance.  The first is the Center for Rural Affairs, which recently produced a report card on crop insurance’s effectiveness and gave it a failing grade. CIPA asked farmers to grade crop insurance, and fewer than 1 percent agreed with the Center for Rural Affairs’ assessment.  Instead, nearly six in 10 respondents gave crop insurance an A and 36 percent selected a B.

     

    Next, the survey asked if it were appropriate for university professors to profit from designing crop insurance policies and then take money from farm policy opponents to criticize crop insurance.  Ninety-four percent of respondents said, “Making money being on both sides of an issue is a conflict of interest.”      

    The survey can be viewed at this link

     


  • Tuesday, December 01, 2015 12:29 PM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    We have great news to report!

    Thanks to the tenacity and hard work of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX), a full repeal of the provision that would otherwise kill Federal Crop Insurance has been included in the final Highway Bill that is being reported out of the House and Senate conference committee this afternoon.  Importantly, in full conformance with the pledge made to Chairman Conaway the offsets to pay for the repeal of this noxious provision are not coming from within the Agriculture Committees’ jurisdiction.    

    Here is how the language in the Highway Bill reads:

    SEC. 32205. REPEAL.

    Effective as of November 2, 2015, the date of the enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (Public Law 114–74), section 201 of such Act and the amendments made by such section are repealed, and the provisions of law amended by such section are hereby restored to appear as if such section had not been enacted into law.

    The next step is that the Highway Bill conference report must be voted on up or down by the House and Senate, with no amendment.  Should Congress approve the measure, the President is expected to sign it into law.

    Chairman Conaway has praised House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) for their leadership in supporting this critical repeal as part of the Highway Bill.

    As you recall, a provision designed to kill Federal Crop Insurance was inserted in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement via a back room deal struck in the middle of the night.  But, within 36 hours, Chairman Conaway had secured firm commitments from House leadership to repeal the provision in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill and to do so without imposing cuts elsewhere within the Agriculture Committee’s jurisdiction.

    Chairman Conaway has enjoyed the strong backing of his Ranking Member, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), many other congressional leaders and rank and file Members of Congress.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) who is a long-time champion of crop insurance, pledged to honor the agreement in a floor colloquy with Chairman Roberts.  

    Importantly, our champions in Congress enjoyed the strong backing of folks like you!  Your emails and your calls were crucial.  You made a huge difference!  We are proud of you all and we cannot thank you enough! 

    We will let you know if your efforts are needed in whipping for the Highway Bill.  We may also be called on to help with the Omnibus Bill.  Even though the crop insurance fix is not going to be on the Omnibus because Leadership moved it to the Highway Bill to give crop insurance an earlier, surer fix, we certainly would still owe it to our friends to help them with this other legislation if and when called upon to do so. 

    But, for now, we just wanted you to be aware that a promise was made to you earlier in the month and it increasingly appears that that promise will be kept.

    Chalk up a big win for the good guys!    

    Yours gratefully, 

    The CSA Crew        


  • Wednesday, October 28, 2015 4:14 PM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    Thank you for all of your hard work and effort.  Your work paid off.

    Although the crop insurance provision will remain in the debt ceiling bill, incoming Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have all three pledged to Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) that the provision will be stripped out in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill expected to come before Congress this month or in December.

    Importantly, under the agreement, the provision will be stripped out and with *NO* cuts from the Farm Bill or Crop Insurance to replace them.

    Members of Congress woke up this morning to read front page headlines of how Chairman Conaway is leading the fight to protect crop insurance.

    Moreover, Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Members Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who have also expressed strong opposition to the provision, are reportedly working to gain similar assurances from Senate leadership, with reports saying Chairman Roberts met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) this afternoon.

    Reports indicate that the White House is also on board.

    We hope that everybody receiving this email will politely flood Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Ranking Member Peterson (D-MN) with heartfelt thanks for their truly heroic work.  Chairman Conaway dug his heels in early and would not relent until he won this commitment, and Rep. Peterson and many others backed his play.  

    But, also vital was the role that each and every one of you played.  Had each of you just sat back and said it will get fixed in the omnibus instead of working like the dickens, we would not have had this win today. 

    Your leadership made a huge difference.  We were told by Capitol Hill that they had never seen the likes of this grassroots effort, not even during the Farm Bill.  Offices were getting bombarded.  Even friendly ones who said they didn’t mind.  

    In addition, please be sure to thank these Members who stood with Chairman Conaway and Mr. Peterson by signing the letter that said the provision must come out or they would work to defeat the bill:

    K. Michael Conaway

    Collin C. Peterson

    Eric A. “Rick” Crawford

    Frank D. Lucas

    Jason Smith

    Kevin Cramer

    Scott DesJarlais

    Stephen Fincher

    Rod Blum

    Filemon Vela

    Tim Huelskamp

    Trent Kelly

    Tom Emmer

    Doug LaMalfa

    Blake Farenthold

    Ryan Zinke

    Ted Poe

    Austin Scott

    Adrian Smith

    Randy Neugebauer

    John R. Moolenaar

    Adam Kinzinger

    Tom Rooney

    Ralph Abraham

    Dan Newhouse

    Rick Allen

    Steve King

    Roger Williams

    Randy Weber

    Corrine Brown

    Marlin A. Stutzman

    Earl L. “Buddy” Carter

    David Rouzer

    Ted S. Yoho

    Bill Flores

    Sean Duffy

    Sanford Bishop

    Steve Pearce

    Chris Collins

    Rodney Davis

    Tom Rice

    Bob Gibbs

    Bennie Thompson

    Jackie Walorski

    Charles Boustany

    Michael McCaul

    Bill Posey

    David Young

    Randy Hultgren

    Mike Pompeo

    Reid Ribble

    Mo Brooks

    Kevin Yoder

    Darin LaHood

    Todd Young

    Lynn Westmoreland

    There are also other Members who, while they did not sign onto the letter, were working the issue hard on our behalf.  Some high profile examples include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who led efforts to iron out the agreement, plusHouse Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD), and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) who all backed Chairman Conaway and were tireless advocates in favorably resolving this issue.  They, too, should be thanked.

    Members who signaled they wanted onto the letter before it was pulled back due to the agreement include:

    Tom Cole

    Randy Forbes

    Candice Miller

    Robert Hurt

    John Ratcliffe

    Mo Brooks

    As a cautionary note, while this commitment is significant, a huge win, it is not done.  There is going to have to be a lot of work to complete the job.  Crazy groups that came out in support of the provision like EWG, Sustainable Ag, the R Street Institute, etc. are still going to be working to kill crop insurance.  In fact, just today, the usual suspects sent a letter to all 435 House Members.  You can read their hogwash below. 

    So, between now and the Omnibus, we are going to have to continue to make our voices heard until the job is done and this issue is put to bed. 

    Thank you for all that you did to make this agreement come together.  Again, I hope that you take time to thank these Members, particularly Chairman Conway and his crew for leading the fight.  They were heroic.

    The CSA Crew  

    ----------------------------


    Support the Common Sense Crop Insurance Reforms of the Bipartisan Budget Act

    From: The Honorable Ron Kind
    Sent By: Natalie.Mamerow@mail.house.gov
    Date: 10/28/2015

    Dear Colleague,

    Reform to our federal crop insurance program is badly needed. 

    In particular, the windfall profits being reaped by giant crop insurance companies need to be reduced. In recent years, the reinsurance agreement struck between USDA and the insurance industry has guaranteed insurance giants like ADM Crop Risk Services a 14 percent rate of return. 

    At a time when many Americans are still struggling to recover from the recession, no industry should be guaranteed a 14 percent rate of return. 

    Fortunately, Sec. 201 of H.R. 1314 would reduce to 8.9 percent the rate of return guaranteed to crop insurance companies, generating $3 billion in savings. These important reforms will not only strike a better deal for taxpayers but will have no impact on farmers and no impact on the number of companies who offer insurance to farmers. 

    Contrary to misleading arguments being made by opponents of this important reform, reducing the windfall profits being reaped by some of the nation’s most successful business will have no impact on the cost of crop insurance policies being offered to farmers. 

    Instead, Sec. 201 of H.R. 1314 will ensure that crop insurance giants pay a fair share of the indemnities being collected by farmers when farm revenues fall or crops fail. 

    Large insurance companies have reported record earnings in recent years. According to CRS, crop insurance companies have reported underwriting gains in nine of the last ten years. Overall, total underwriting gains between 2003 and 2013 topped $12 billion. 

    Now is the time to include long overdue reforms of the reinsurance agreement between USDA and the crop insurance industry. 

    We urge you to support this common sense crop insurance reform in H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. 

     

    Sincerely,

     

    Ron Kind                      Charlie Dent                  Rosa DeLauro            

    Member of Congress     Member of Congress      Member of Congress

     

    Earl Blumenauer                                 John J. Duncan, Jr.

    Member of Congress                          Member of Congress


  • Wednesday, October 28, 2015 9:32 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)
    Click here to view Chairman Combest's column in The Hill.


  • Wednesday, October 28, 2015 9:03 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    Many of you are eager for an update on the status of the provision in the budget deal that would kill crop insurance. 

    The bad news is, the situation is not yet resolved. The good news is, you are having a huge impact. What can you do now?  

    We are being asked to double up and keep up the pressure, pounding the point home that this language must be stripped out of the bill or the bill must be defeated. 

    You should contact Members you already have contacted and reach out to others in your state. If you have friends, relatives, or colleagues in other congressional districts, ask them to weigh in as well. Chairman Conaway and Ranking Member Peterson have been collecting signatories on a letter and are trying to get as many signatories as possible. The list of Members who have signed on the letter is at the bottom of this email along with the letter. If your congressman (not senators) is not on the letter, please call the member and ask why they are not.  And then strongly urge that he sign.  

    One way to introduce a fresh talking point is to send them the column written yesterday by Chairman Combest. It lays out clearly what is at stake and how we got to this point. This is not a mere attempt to save $3B. This is a stealth effort to kill crop insurance. You can find the column here: How the budget deal harms farmers, costs jobs and kills crop insurance

    Again, here is how to contact your congressmen and senators. Go to http://capwiz.com/yo-demo/dbq/officials/. Enter the Congressman or Senator's name in the space provided and click go to find the Member. Then click on the staff tab to identify the Agriculture LA. The email format for House staffers is: firstname.lastname@mail.house.gov. For Senate staff it is firstname_lastname@senatorslastname.senate.gov, for example John Doe in Senator Smith’s office would be John_Doe@Smith.Senate.gov. We would also urge that you call the main telephone line and leave a similar message.

    We greatly appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to stand up and fight for what's right. 

    Please holler with questions. 

    The CSA Crew

     

    K. Michael Conaway

    Collin C. Peterson

    Eric A. “Rick” Crawford

    Frank D. Lucas

    Jason Smith

    Kevin Cramer

    Scott DesJarlais

    Stephen Fincher

    Rod Blum

    Filemon Vela

    Tim Huelskamp

    Trent Kelly

    Tom Emmer

    Doug LaMalfa

    Blake Farenthold

    Ryan Zinke

    Ted Poe

    Austin Scott

    Adrian Smith

    Randy Neugebauer

    John R. Moolenaar

    Adam Kinzinger

    Tom Rooney

    Ralph Abraham

    Dan Newhouse

    Rick Allen

    Steve King

    Roger Williams

    Randy Weber

    Corrine Brown

    Marlin A. Stutzman

    Earl L. “Buddy” Carter

    David Rouzer

    Ted S. Yoho

    Bill Flores

    Sean Duffy

    Sanford Bishop

    Steve Pearce

    Chris Collins

    Rodney Davis

    Tom Rice

    Bennie Thompson

    Charles Boustany

    Bob Gibbs

     

    Dear­­­____:
     
    It has come to our attention that the “Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015” contains a provision that violates our pledge not to reopen the 2014 Farm Bill and would inflict serious injury on America’s farmers and ranchers at a time when net farm income is projected to be down by 53 percent over the past two years.
     
    Section 201 of the bill is widely expected to end Federal Crop Insurance, which is critical to producers and lenders alike. 
     
    Specifically, the provision proposes to reduce rates of return to crop insurance companies from a gross of about 14.5 percent down to a gross of 8.9 percent.  However, this does not tell the real story.  Since 2011 actual returns to companies have averaged about 5 percent, and factoring in costs, the average returns are much closer to zero.  The reduction contained in section 201 would kill private sector delivery which is responsible for the success of Federal Crop Insurance.
     
    Not even two years have passed since we made a commitment with the passage of a bipartisan 5-year farm bill that included $23 billion in savings. The current Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 breaks that promise.
     
    Nobody consulted the Agriculture Committees of Congress when this provision was included in the bill, the details of which were not posted until the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 27.  Instead, a reckless provision of devastating consequences was quite literally inserted in a backroom in the middle of the night.     
     
    This provision must be removed from the bill.  If it is not stripped from the bill, we will have no choice but to work to defeat this measure.
     
    Sincerely,
     
     
    __________/s/________________    _____________/s/_______________
    Chairman K. Michael Conaway          Ranking Member Collin Peterson


  • Tuesday, October 27, 2015 4:44 PM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    We know that all of you have been working this issue and wondering what is happening. 

    Please know that you are making a difference and please keep up the pressure. 

    Here is a story about what you are accomplishing.  Please, please keep it up.

    The CSA Crew 

    ____________________________________________

     

    Budget deal hits roadblocks

    By Manu RajuDeirdre Walsh and Ted Barrett, CNN

    Updated 4:35 PM ET, Tue October 27, 2015

    Republican leaders are running into a fresh set of problems as they try to ram through a last-ditch budget deal, with lawmakers from rural states objecting to cuts to the crop insurance program and others balking at the price tag of the proposal.

    As Speaker John Boehner tried to lock down votes on the House floor, a number of lawmakers refused to endorse the plan, angry that they were being jammed by their party leaders and worried about the impact the plan may have on their districts.

    While GOP leaders still expressed confidence the bill would pass as early as Wednesday, it appeared that the final vote tally could be close.

    Tuesday afternoon the Congressional Budget Office informed leaders that the methods they used to pay for the deal left them roughly $5 billion short. Leadership aides from both parties downplayed the budget hole, saying the CBO didn't give them full credit for the savings they came up with and there would likely be some technical changes to the bill, but no major revisions.

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said the CBO issue won't sideline the deal. "The number isn't quite right, but that doesn't matter," Reid said. "The point is this: the CBO numbers have fluctuated for more than a week. One day up. One day down. We are satisfied with the agreement we have."

    Another problem facing leaders: Rural lawmakers sharply objected to language included in the deal that would cut into crop insurance subsidies for farmers.

    House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, began circulating a letter Tuesday urging fellow Republicans to oppose the bill until the provision is removed.

    "As chairman of the Ag Committee, I got to protect the integrity of the farm bill," Conaway said. "The overall impact is to flush insurance companies out of business, which I think is the President's intent."

    Under the deal, rate of return for crop insurance will be lowered to 8.9 percent -- down from 14.5 percent -- in order to cut costs and help pay for the increased spending. Republicans and Democrats agreed to raise domestic and defense spending by $80 billion over the next two years, with an additional $32 billion in emergency war funding. It would extend the national debt limit until March 2017 and make cuts to the Social Security disability program.

    Conaway, along with the Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and top committee Democrats issued statements blasting the change to the crop insurance program, and arguing they would oppose any changes to the 2014 farm bill they negotiated.

    "While Congressional leaders may sell this package as providing budget stability, it is anything but stable for farmers and ranchers," Roberts said in a statement, adding, "once again, our leaders are attempting to govern by backroom deals where the devil is in the details. I will continue to oppose any attempts to cut crop insurance funding or to change crop insurance program policies."

    Florida Rep. Dennis Ross, a member of the House GOP whip team, told reporters he planned to vote against the bill mainly because of the "ag issue," but he also cited concerns about not getting more in return for suspending the debt ceiling.

    On Tuesday afternoon, sources said that party leaders were engaged in a furious round of back-channel talks with the CBO to ensure that the price tag of the proposal didn't scare away support. By Tuesday afternoon, leaders were trying to ensure that the deal wouldn't cost more than anticipated, a potential problem for fiscal conservatives.

    Many Republicans, however, were still reserving judgment -- particularly since the bill was proposed shortly before midnight and could be voted on right before Boehner officially hands the speaker's gavel over to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

    Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Florida, said his district consists of seniors and farmers -- two groups who are "not going to be ecstatic about some of the things that are in there." He added, "I'm a little frustrated that we're doing a (whip) check right now because I have no idea."

    On both sides of the Capitol, lawmakers were frustrated about the process of being forced to capitulate on a key concession -- raising the debt ceiling -- without more time for debate.

    Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson called the process "disgusting" and threatened to vote against it.

    Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, said he was "leaning no" on the deal, pointing to the way leaders crafted the way to pay for it. "There's a crop insurance in there I didn't know about." 


  • Tuesday, October 27, 2015 1:06 PM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    Dear CIPA Member:

    We know that many of you have already emailed and called your Congressmen and Senators.  However, we have been told by many that the White House and Congressional Leadership regard the issue as closed.

    In response, Chairman Conaway and Ranking Member Peterson are circulating a letter that they hope as many House Members as possible will sign onto.  The deadline to sign is COB today. 

    The GOP Committee contact for signing the letter is Chris Heggem (christine.heggem@mail.house.gov) and for Ranking Members Peterson’s team it is Mike Stranz (mike.stranz@mail.house.gov).

    Please take a moment to send this letter to your Congressman (NOT senators) urging them to sign. 

    Thank you. 

    The CSA Crew

    _________________________________

    Dear­­­____:

    It has come to our attention that the “Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015” contains a provision that violates our pledge not to reopen the 2014 Farm Bill and would inflict serious injury on America’s farmers and ranchers at a time when net farm income is projected to be down by 53 percent over the past two years.

    Section 201 of the bill is widely expected to end Federal Crop Insurance, which is critical to producers and lenders alike. 

    Specifically, the provision proposes to reduce rates of return to crop insurance companies from a gross of about 14.5 percent down to a gross of 8.9 percent.  However, this does not tell the real story.  Since 2011 actual returns to companies have averaged about 5 percent, and factoring in costs, the average returns are much closer to zero.  The reduction contained in section 201 would kill private sector delivery which is responsible for the success of Federal Crop Insurance.

    Not even two years have passed since we made a commitment with the passage of a bipartisan 5-year farm bill that included $23 billion in savings. The current Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 breaks that promise. 

    Nobody consulted the Agriculture Committees of Congress when this provision was included in the bill, the details of which were not posted until the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 27.  Instead, a reckless provision of devastating consequences was quite literally inserted in a backroom in the middle of the night.     

    This provision must be removed from the bill.  If it is not stripped from the bill, we will have no choice but to work to defeat this measure.

    Sincerely,

    __________/s/________________    _____________/s/_______________

    Chairman K. Michael Conaway          Ranking Member Collin Peterson 


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