U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed today during a phone call with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden that USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) will reverse its new, 2013 special provisions of insurance for burley and flue-cured tobacco farmers next year.
During the conversation, Deputy Secretary Harden expressed that she had listened to McConnell's concerns from a July 2013 meeting in his Washington, D.C. office about how the RMA's untimely, December 2012 announcement of the new 2013 policy rendered many tobacco farmers ineligible for crop insurance starting in 2013 and for the ensuing years.
Deputy Secretary Harden shared that in light of the Senator's concerns as well as further research by the agency, the RMA will be reversing its 2013 policy. The policy reversal is welcomed by Kentucky farmers in the long-term, but those uninsured in 2013 will still feel the sting as they will remain ineligible for insurance until the 2014 crop year as a result of the administration's earlier actions.
"Today's announcement is a long-term victory for Kentucky's tobacco growers and our economy, and I appreciate the Kentucky Farm Bureau for raising this important issue early on," Senator McConnell said. "Farmers will resume having regulatory certainty while growing tobacco under the pre-2013 provisions, and I am grateful that Deputy Secretary Harden listened to the concerns I raised on behalf of Kentucky's tobacco farmers and for moving to correct this ineffective policy."
BACKGROUND: On December 18, 2012, the USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA), without notice in the Federal Register, announced changes to crop insurance requirements for burley and flue-cured tobacco effective for the 2013 planting season. While the policy changes themselves were established as a good faith effort to address crop insurance fraud and improve program integrity, the announcement's untimeliness rendered countless Kentucky farmers' land ineligible for coverage for 2013 and in the ensuing years. Now, just ten months after making these changes, the RMA has declared the new policy defunct and ineffective in accomplishing what they were originally intended to do-- prevent crop insurance fraud.