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  • 10/27/2015 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." 

  • 10/27/2015 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 ( and for Ranking Members Peterson’s team it is Mike Stranz (

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

    Thank you. 

    The CSA Crew



    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.


    __________/s/________________    _____________/s/_______________

    Chairman K. Michael Conaway          Ranking Member Collin Peterson 

  • 10/27/2015 12:14 PM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    Last night we reported to you that crop insurance cuts were going to be included in a bill to raise the debt ceiling and also to establish a two year budget governing appropriations bills. We just were not sure what the cuts would look like.

    Late last night, the cuts were made public. In short, the provision in the bill would require a renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA) – the contract between companies and the government – that would result in a cap on the rate of return equal to 8.9 percent. Keep in mind that we are told the current rate of return is about 14.5 percent gross and that this works out to be about 5 to 6 percent net. Further keep in mind that companies have already been selling out and more have been reported as considering doing so.

    All of you know that crop insurance muddled along from 1936 until 1980 when the private sector took over. Since then, with private sector delivery, crop insurance has taken off. The introduction of revenue policies in the mid-1990s and the 2000 crop insurance bill helped make crop insurance what it is today. The SRA of 2011 hit private sector delivery hard. At the time, USDA projected $6 billion in cuts. These cuts came after about $6 billion in cuts under the 2008 Farm Bill.

    Make no mistake, the cuts contained in the debt ceiling/budget agreement will kill Federal Crop Insurance.

    The provision is said to save $3 billion. We do not know if this figure is accurate. But, rather we would note two things.

    First, crop insurance has already been cut. And the Farm Bill was just cut to the tune of $23 billion. When this two year budget agreement wears off, are we to expect another round of cuts?

    Second, as angry as we are that they would come after crop insurance like this, we are more angry that they chose to go around the Ag Committees and choose the most devastating cuts they could think of. The Ag Committees could come up with $3 billion in savings that are not reckless and dangerous if they had to. There would be pain but they could do it more carefully. However, the White House and OMB chose this cut specifically, pressed for it, and it was accepted.

    The bill has been filed and is expected to be voted on tomorrow. That gives us today to yell like we’ve never yelled before. Everyone receiving this email needs to call their senators and their congressman and let them know in plain terms that by voting for this bill they are killing federal crop insurance.

    We recommend urging them to speak to their Leadership and urge that the provision be stripped out of the bill. At bare minimum, the provision must be stripped out and replaced with responsible savings developed by the Agriculture Committees. If the provision is not stripped out, we would urge you to call on your congressman and senators to oppose the bill and work for its defeat.

    Again, given the timing, we would urge that you contact the Agriculture LA by email by: going to 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: For Senate staff it is, for example John Doe in Senator Smith’s office would be We would also urge that you call the main telephone line and leave a similar message.

    In all of the years we have worked in Washington, we have never seen a more reckless move…and that is truly saying something.

    Please contact us with questions.

    The CSA Crew

  • 09/17/2015 10:28 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    Click here for Chairman Combest's Column titled "China's Market Manipulations Nothing New to America's Farmers."

  • 09/17/2015 9:18 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)
    On September 15th, Tom Sell presented at the Minnesota Crop Insurance Conference at the Verison Wireless Center in Mankato, Minnesota.  The Minnesota Crop Insurance Conference is one of the largest gatherings of crop insurance agents in the Midwest. Attendees will hear outstanding speakers address topics directly relevant to crop insurance agents and interact with over 650 other crop insurance agents.  Tom will be providing the Washington update, hitting themes familiar to CIPA agents.  You can see an old CIPA 1-pager with updated numbers that will be used here.

  • 07/27/2015 10:02 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)
    On Wednesday, July 22nd, the House Agriculture Committee hosted Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for an oversight hearing over a variety of issues. Avian Influenza was a hot topic. Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) commended Secretary Vilsack, saying the USDA’s handling of the issue “has helped restore confidence” within the industry. Other issues that were covered included  the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) information technology (MIDAS) project and the EPA’s WOTUS Rule. Secretary Vilsack said the EPA’s new WOTUS rule would likely result in “a lot of litigation and concern.” Read more about the hearing from the Hagstrom Report and AgriPulse

  • 07/09/2015 10:57 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)
    The two crop insurance amendments that were trotted out by the EWG — Rep. Pingree (D-ME) amendment to apply a $750,000 means test; and Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) amendment to require publication of insurance records — both failed by voice vote. An anti-sugar amendment was discussed and withdrawn. And an anti-cotton amendment also failed.  In addition to your calls, CIPA sent a letter on these matters which you can read here.

  • 07/08/2015 8:43 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)
    Click here to view CIPA's letter sent to Appropriations Member offices opposing amendments to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

  • 07/07/2015 3:00 PM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    Congress is right back into the swing of things, with only 4 weeks of work before the August recess.

    As noted before the break, the draft Agriculture Appropriations bill will be considered by the Full Committee tomorrow at 10:15 eastern.

    This is always an opportunity for opponents of agriculture to trot their amendments, and this year appears to be no exception.

    As of now, we are hearing from Committee staff that they are expecting 3 harmful amendments to crop insurance. They are:

    • Pingree AGI limits. This will limit availability to crop insurance based on AGI in excess of $750K.
    • DeLauro disclosure of individual farmer premium assistance on an individual farmer basis (EWG subsidy database for crop insurance).
    • Removal of the base language on conservation compliance (providing relief on penalty only for 2016) - no sponsor yet. 

    Members of the Full Appropriations Committee are printed below. If you have connections to any of these members (constituent or otherwise), please use them to contact and urge them to stand by our Nation's farmers, and vote against any anti-crop insurance amendments or other amendments that would undermine the important purposes of the Farm Bill (note: there may be an anti-sugar amendment; and another that would impede the marketing of cotton).

    If you need contact information for any of these offices, go to Enter the Congressman’s name in the space provided and click go to find the Member. Then click on the staff tab to identify the Agriculture LA. Then click on the contact tab to learn the Congressman’s telephone number. You may call that number and ask for the Agriculture LA by name or you may also email the Agriculture LA using this email format:

    If you want or need more detail or back-up on any of these issues, just call us.

    There are other issues we will want to catch up with you on, but this item takes precedence.

    Thanks in advance for taking action.
    Tom Sell
    Cell: (806) 535-0093
    DC office: (202) 544-5873

    Committee Members


    • Harold Rogers, Kentucky, Chairman 
    • Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, New Jersey 
    • Robert B. Aderholt, Alabama 
    • Kay Granger, Texas 
    • Michael K. Simpson, Idaho 
    • John Abney Culberson, Texas 
    • Ander Crenshaw, Florida 
    • John R. Carter, Texas 
    • Ken Calvert, California 
    • Tom Cole, Oklahoma
    • Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida 
    • Charles W. Dent, Pennsylvania 
    • Tom Graves, Georgia 
    • Kevin Yoder, Kansas 
    • Steve Womack, Arkansas 
    • Jeff Fortenberry, Nebraska 
    • Tom Rooney, Florida 
    • Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee 
    • Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington 
    • David Joyce, Ohio 
    • David Valadao, California 
    • Andy Harris, MD, Maryland 
    • Martha Roby, Alabama 
    • Mark Amodei, Nevada 
    • Chris Stewart, Utah 
    • Scott Rigell, Virginia 
    • David Jolly, Florida 
    • David Young, Iowa 
    • Evan Jenkins, West Virginia 
    • Steven Palazzo, Mississippi 


    • Nita M. Lowey, New York 
    • Marcy Kaptur, Ohio 
    • Peter J. Visclosky, Indiana 
    • José E. Serrano, New York 
    • Rosa L. DeLauro, Connecticut 
    • David E. Price, North Carolina 
    • Lucille Roybal-Allard, California 
    • Sam Farr, California 
    • Chaka Fattah, Pennsylvania 
    • Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Georgia 
    • Barbara Lee, California 
    • Michael M. Honda, California 
    • Betty McCollum, Minnesota 
    • Steve Israel, New York 
    • Tim Ryan, Ohio 
    • C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland 
    • Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida 
    • Henry Cuellar, Texas 
    • Chellie Pingree, Maine 
    • Mike Quigley, Illinois 
    • Derek Kilmer, Washington
  • 06/29/2015 10:25 AM | Jill Whitley (Administrator)

    We wanted to bring to your attention another op-ed penned by Chairman Combest that was published online at The Hill today. The article highlights what we consider to be a terrible misallocation of resources by libertarian groups who instead of fighting for something so basic as private property rights in the light of a huge land grab by the EPA, have instead said they will focus their energy on tearing down agriculture policy.

    The op-ed can be viewed here: Please take some time to read and comment — and if you like it email, Facebook, and tweet to help promote and drive traffic to the article. Not only does it spread an important message, but also it helps ensure The Hill will continue to run posts defending agriculture. 

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