Crop Insurance Today May 2013 - (Page 18)
2013 Annual Convention
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 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
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
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
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
Crop Insurance Plan Comparison
Crop Insurance Today May 2013