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  • Thursday, September 08, 2016 1:11 PM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    HERITAGE ADVISES END TO COMMODITY, CROP INSURANCE PROGRAMS 

    The Heritage Foundation is laying out its case for eliminating commodity-support programs and crop insurance policies that protect farmers' revenue losses. Pro Ag on Wednesday obtained a copy of a report that will guide the agenda of the conservative think tank's lobbying arm, Heritage Action, when negotiations over the next farm bill ramp up. The report argues that most farmers have the means to manage risk without taxpayer help, and the roughly $15 billion spent annually on subsidies distorts planting decisions while promoting risky practices, like abandoning crop diversification or farming land that is likely to flood or erode.

    "Although farms are generally financially healthy ... some farmers are going to lose their farms, just as restaurant owners will lose their restaurants and pastors will lose their churches," the report says. "The federal government should not be guaranteeing that all operations will survive, and, even worse, guaranteeing that all operations will flourish."

    The Heritage Foundation calls for an end to several programs enacted in the 2014 Farm Bill, including the commodity-support programs Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, as well as the new dairy insurance program. U.S. sugar policy that controls production and imports to maintain certain prices also should be eliminated, it advises. The group also recommends that federal crop insurance only protect against deep yield losses and disasters, not against losses in revenue, which now account for 77 percent of all policies. Producers could select the same coverage levels available now, but taxpayers would only subsidize policies with up to 70 percent protection. To help with the transition, one-time block grants should be given to states to use for agricultural purposes, the group suggests. Read the report here.

    Some early reactions:

    Dale Moore, executive director of public policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation: The Heritage Foundation has once again proposed leaving farmers and ranchers without a viable safety net, he says, and he questions whether researchers at Heritage Action considered the current farm economy and the challenges facing dairy and cotton producers, in particular. Congress and agriculture groups in recent years have worked to move toward a more market-oriented system, Moore says. The Farm Bureau doesn't believe good agriculture policy means sacrificing the people who grow food.

    Tom Sell, principal of the lobbying firm Combest, Sell & Associates: Congress has rejected the Heritage Foundation's arguments in the past, as lawmakers realize farmers take on "extraordinary financial risks" growing crops for a "volatile and distorted world market."

    "They know the farm policies that Heritage's 65 pages of ink try to demean represent one-quarter of one percent of the federal budget and that the risk of getting this area of policy wrong is far greater than this small cost, which has fostered the most productive and dynamic agricultural sector in the history of the world," said Sell, who is an adviser to Farm Policy Facts, a coalition of agricultural groups.

    Tom Sell response in full

    "While Heritage puts out some thoughtful work on many subjects, their studies on agriculture policy are the same old recycled, detached, ivory tower babble.

    "Thankfully, most of the Members of Congress they are trying to influence know some farm families. They know they work incredibly hard and take on extraordinary financial risks to do important work that is of intrinsic value to our society. They know that growing crops for a volatile and distorted world market is more risk than most Americans would be willing to take on. They know family farms are better equated to small businesses than wage earners.  They know the farm policies that Heritage's 65 pages of ink try to demean represent one quarter of one percent of the federal budget and that the risk of getting this area of policy wrong is far greater than this small cost, which has fostered the most productive and dynamic agricultural sector in the history of the world.

    "In a nutshell, Congress and the American people have rejected these aloof arguments in the past and we have no reason to believe this reprise will change that."  

    We are working on a more detailed response for Farm Policy Facts (www.farmpolicyfacts.org) to address some of the particular problems with the Heritage study.  We just wanted to forward this along this morning so that you know we are in the fight.

    Stand proud.  Thanks as always for what you do.


  • Tuesday, August 30, 2016 3:20 PM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    PRACTICAL TO REPLANT

    On June 22, RMA published an interim final rule which, among other things, would change the definition of "practical to replant."  You can access it at the link below:

    http://www.rma.usda.gov/bulletins/managers/2015/mgr-15-007.pdf.

    Many just recently became aware of this and started thinking through the implications after the sales season and acreage reporting.  The CIPA Regulatory Affairs Committee and Board deliberated on this issue over the last couple of weeks, and CIPA submitted comments yesterday on the August 22 deadline.  You can read the comments here.

  • Friday, August 05, 2016 11:21 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    Secretary Vilsack hit it out of the park in his advocacy of American agriculture in this video of testimony he offered earlier this year.  Click here to view the video.

  • Friday, August 05, 2016 11:20 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    NEW VIDEO SPOTLIGHTS PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR US FARMERS, FARM POLICY

    (OVERLAND PARK, Kan.) – America's farmers and farm policies, including crop insurance, receive overwhelming, bipartisan support from voters, according to a new video released by National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS).

    The video comes after the Republican and Democratic parties wrapped up their national conventions, moving America into the heart of the election season.

    "As the first Tuesday in November approaches, voters will be busy examining candidates from the left, candidates from the right, and hoping they won't be left behind," the video states. "But there's one thing almost everybody can agree on: America's farmers and farm policies are moving the country forward."

    The educational piece is based on results from a recent public opinion poll showing that nearly 90 percent of U.S. voters have a favorable view of farmers, with 92 percent agreeing it is important to provide farmers with federal funding.

    NCIS's video also illustrates that the majority of voters prefer crop insurance, which is delivered by private companies instead of the federal government and partially funded by farmers.

    "That's a winning set-up in most voters' minds," it states. "Nearly 80 percent of whom said they approved of farmers getting discounts on crop insurance premiums, with nearly three-fourths applauding farm policy's current cost-sharing structure."

    These results, the video continues, shouldn't be a surprise as eight in 10 voters agree that a strong and thriving farming industry is critical to America's national security.

    "So while agriculture's critics may continue their unrelenting, misguided fight on farmers and farm policy," it concludes, "the numbers show that Farm Country will have a powerful ally in its corner this November and beyond…the American people."

    Click here to view this video on YouTube.


  • Thursday, July 28, 2016 11:09 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    CIPA held their Annual Board Member Election at their CIPA Business Meeting in Kansas City on May 3, 2016. Below is the list of our CIPA Board of Directors for the 2016-17 membership year.

    2016-17 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
    TERM EXPIRES
    William Cole, Chairman 2018
    Gid Moore, Vice Chairman 2019
    Marva Ulleland, Secretary 2017
    Jack Tank, Treasurer 2018
    Mark Andreasen 2019
    Tom Babel 2019
    Roger Buchanan 2019
    Pete Dunn 2018
    Matthew Flemming 2019
    Joanie Grimes 2017
    Travis Keister 2017
    Sam Sonnenberg 2017
    Jason Williamson 2019


  • Thursday, June 30, 2016 12:52 PM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    USDA Provides Targeted Assistance to Cotton Producers to Share in the Cost of Ginning

     

    One-time Payments to Begin in July to Assist with 2016 Ginning Season

     

    WASHINGTON, June 6, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide an estimated $300 million in cost-share assistance payments to cotton producers through the new Cotton Ginning Cost-Share program, in order to expand and maintain the domestic marketing of cotton.

     

    “Today's announcement shows USDA continues to stand with America’s cotton producers and our rural communities,” said Vilsack. “The Cotton Ginning Cost Share program will offer meaningful, timely and targeted assistance to cotton growers to help with their anticipated ginning costs and to facilitate marketing. The program will provide, on average, approximately 60 percent more assistance per farm and per producer than the 2014 program that provided cotton transition assistance.”

     

    Through the Cotton Ginning Cost Share program, eligible producers can receive a one-time cost share payment, which is based on a producer’s 2015 cotton acres reported to FSA, multiplied by 40 percent of the average ginning cost for each production region. With the pressing need to provide assistance ahead of the 2016 ginning season this fall, USDA will ensure the application process is straight-forward and efficient. The program estimates the costs based on planting of cotton in 2015, and therefore the local FSA offices already have this information for the vast majority of eligible producers and the applications will be pre-populated with existing data. Sign-up for the program will begin June 20 and run through Aug. 5, 2016 at the producer’s local FSA office. Payments will be processed as applications are received, and are expected to begin in July.

     

    Since 2011, cotton fiber markets have experienced dramatic changes. As a result of low cotton prices and global oversupply, cotton producers are facing economic uncertainty that has led to many producers having lost equity and having been forced to liquidate equipment and land to satisfy loans. The ginning of cotton is necessary prior to marketing the lint for fiber, or the seed for oil or feed. While the Cotton Ginning Cost-Share program makes payments to cotton producers for cotton ginning costs, the benefits of the program will be felt by the broader marketing chain associated with cotton and cottonseed, including cotton gins, cooperatives, marketers and cottonseed crushers and the rural communities that depend on them.

     

    The program has the same eligibility requirements as were used for the 2014 Cotton Transition Assistance Program, including a $40,000 per producer payment limit, requirement to be actively engaged in farming, meet conservation compliance and a $900,000 adjusted gross income limit.

     

    To learn more about the Cotton Ginning Cost-Share program, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/CGCS/index or contact a local FSA county office. To find your local FSA county office, visithttp://offices.usda.gov.

     

    Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. USDA has also provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,500 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.


  • 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


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