Crop Insurance Today May 2013 - (Page 18)

CropInsuranceTODAY 2013 Annual Convention Great Success! By Laurie Langstraat, NCIS The 2013 Crop Insurance Industry Annual Convention, sponsored by the American Association of Crop Insurers (AACI) and National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS), was a tremendous success. More than 390 industry representatives, reinsurers, brokers, agents and association staff attended the four-day conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Speakers and panelists provided a variety of unique perspectives on American agriculture and the role of crop insurance as the cornerstone of risk management tools for U.S. farmers and ranchers. Along with several educational sessions, the meeting provided attendees an opportunity to meet with reinsurers and network with other crop insurance professionals. Farmer Panel Farmer leaders called crop insurance their “most important risk management tool” and said it is essential to keep agriculture strong and bring young farmers into an aging business. Curt Friesen, a member of the Nebraska Corn Board, applauded crop insurers for the speed in which claims were processed following the historic 2012 drought. “But crop insurance isn’t just about obtaining financing or surviving disaster, it is also a useful marketing tool,” he noted. “In our area, whether it’s a guy 25 years old trying to get into farming, or a guy like me in his 50s, it’s not a choice whether we have federal crop insurance,” said Mark Nichols, a cotton grower from Oklahoma. “Our banks look at it as our main risk management tool.” Bill Bridgeforth, chairman of the National Black Growers Council, knows first-hand why banks look to insurance as a way to protect a farmer’s investment. A fifth-generation farmer from Alabama, Bridgeforth told the group that he has used crop insurance every year since 18 MAY2013 Farmer Panel (left to right): Mark Nichols, Curt Friesen, Bill Bridgeforth and Bing Von Bergen. 1980. “We’ve had some pretty good years, and we’ve had some years that, if it hadn’t been for crop insurance, we probably wouldn’t be in business today,” he explained. When asked during a question and answer session about critics attacking crop insurance, panelists were quick to defend the public-private partnership, noting its cost effectiveness and the lack of expensive taxpayer-funded ad hoc disaster legislation following the 2012 drought. Bing Von Bergen, a Montana wheat farmer and director of the National Association of Wheat Growers, also explained that in good years the government makes underwriting gains on crop insurance because farmers pay premiums. He criticized legislative attempts to reduce crop insurance participation by attaching arbitrary benefit caps, income limits and duplicative conservation compliance mandates to the program. Such attempts, he said, could wind up increasing premium rates for all farmers. Commodity Group Panel Echoing the same message heard throughout the halls of Congress last year, a panel of farm leaders urged Congress to “do no harm” to crop insurance in the upcoming Farm Bill and to remember that crop insurance is a top prior- ity for most of America’s farmers. Robbie Minnich, senior government relations representative with the National Cotton Council, pointed out that one of the key strengths of crop insurance is that farmers and agents sit down and draw up a risk management strategy tailored specifically for that farm. “Crop insurance policies come in a wide array of styles and coverage and the farmer can very closely tailor their policy to their specific farm situation and risk tolerance. It’s certainly not a ‘one-sizefits-all’ strategy,” he said. “It is critically important that farm policy includes avenues for farmers and ranchers to manage the risk of bad yields and wild market swings,” said Mike Stranz, a government relations representative with National Farmers Union. “The current system of crop insurance has done a good job of that and must to continue to improve,” he added. Several of the panelists expressed concern that crop insurance could come under pressure as budget constraints tighten, which could harm both the participation levels and overall effectiveness of the program. “One of the keys to the success of crop insurance is the widespread participation by farmers,” noted Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of congressional relations with the American Farm Bureau Federa-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Crop Insurance Today May 2013

President's Message
2012 Year in Review
2013 Annual Convention Great Success!
Max Erickson Awarded Outstanding Service Award
Larry Heitman Pesented Leadership Award
Leadership of NCIS Regional/State Crop Insurance Committees
How Do Farmers Manage Risk When It Comes in So Many Forms?
Step 9-Monitoring and Controlling the Farm Business Q: How do I monitor progress over time?
Three Industry Stalwarts Presented Lifetime Achievement Awards
Cover Crops
Crop Insurance Plan Comparison
NCIS Retirements

Crop Insurance Today May 2013