U.S. Senator Pat Roberts today introduced a bill to strengthen the federal crop insurance program, improving the critical safety-net for farmers while also saving the taxpayer $5.2 billion over 10 years.
"In the last few years farmers and ranchers have been tested by prolonged drought, freezes and floods," Roberts said. "Time after time, we are told by producers that crop insurance is the single most important program that helps them when disasters strike. As debate begins again on a five year farm bill, I have introduced this bill to ensure crop insurance is protected and improved while at the same time saving billions of taxpayer dollars and ensuring a safe and affordable food supply."
More than two thirds of eligible acres in America are enrolled in the crop insurance program.
"There are still farmers who cannot afford to purchase crop insurance," Roberts said. "Our bill seeks to create a program that is more affordable and offers producers additional protections in a way that does not distort planning decisions and is WTO compliant."
Roberts' bill reauthorizes the federal crop insurance program. It expands coverage options for producers through a Supplemental Coverage Option based on an area yield and loss basis.
It also amends the Federal Crop Insurance Act to make available separate enterprise units for irrigated and non-irrigated acreages of crops in counties.
The bill also addresses the declining Actual Production History (APH) yield problem by increasing the county transitional yield.
It sets budget limitations on future renegotiation of the Standard Reinsurance Agreement by requiring any savings realized in SRA renegotiations to return to Risk Management Agency (RMA) programs.
The legislation also continues the Stacked Income Protection Plan, known as STAX, for producers of upland cotton.
In order to help pay down the debt and reduce the deficit, the legislation is fully paid for by the elimination of direct payments saving taxpayers $5 billion over ten years according to a preliminary score by the Congressional Budget Office.
"After three years of serious drought, it is not because of an agriculture ad hoc disaster package that farmers are back on their feet," Roberts said. "These farmers are able to put seeds in the ground again because they managed their risk and protected their operations through the purchase of crop insurance. This is the one component of the farm safety net that requires a producer to have skin in the game."
This proposal is similar to S. 3240, the bipartisan Senate passed Farm Bill in the 112th Congress.
The full text of the bill is available below.
This effort is in addition to recent legislation Senator Roberts introduced that will save $36 billion over 10 years in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as food stamps, while restoring integrity to the program and ensuring those in the greatest need continue to receive food benefits.
In 2000, Senator Roberts and Senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) wrote legislation, later signed into law, to improve the crop insurance program.
Senator Roberts is senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. He is also a former Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.