Iowa Public Television

 

Low cost agricultural insurance plan pending in congress

posted on March 24, 2000


SPRING PLANTING WILL BE MADE MORE EXPENSIVE, COURTESY OF HIGHER INTEREST RATES. PETROLEUM COSTS WILL BE HIGHER AS WELL, COURTESY OF GAS-GUZZLING URBANITES WHO REMAIN OPEC'S BEST CUSTOMERS. AND THE PROSPECT OF DROUGHT PERSISTS DESPITE RAINS THIS WEEK.

STILL SOME HELP MAY BE IN THE OFFING. CONGRESS IS PUSHING THROUGH LEGISLATION THAT SHARPLY REDUCES THE COST OF FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED CROP INSURANCE.

POLICIES CAN BE PURCHASED TO PROTECT FARMERS FROM WEATHER-RELATED LOSSES, AS WELL AS DROPS IN COMMODITY PRICES. THE MEASURE ALSO OFFERS COVERAGE FOR THE FIRST TIME TO LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS, AND EXPANDS POLICIES FOR FRUIT AND VEGETABLE GROWERS.

HAGEL: "If we can assist in making crop insurance a very important risk management tool for our ag producers - more afforadable and expansive - we will help producers weather the bad times."

THE MEASURE WOULD COST TAXPAYERS $6 BILLION OVER THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. SUPPORTERS OF THE PLAN ARGUE THAT'S FAR LESS THAN THE $15 BILLION SPENT BY CONGRESS IN EMERGENCY AID FOR FARMERS DURING THE PAST TWO YEARS.

THE GOVERNMENT NOW PAYS BETWEEN 13 AND 57 PERCENT OF A FARMER'S PREMIUM, DEPENDING ON THE LEVEL OF COVERAGE. UNDER THE SENATE BILL, THE GOVERNMENT'S SHARE ON MOST POLICIES WOULD RANGE FROM 45 TO 60 PERCENT. A HOUSE BILL PASSED LAST YEAR SETS THE SUBSIDY AT BETWEEN 31 AND 67 PERCENT. A HOUSE-SENATE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE WILL WORK OUT THE DIFFERENCES IN THE TWO BILLS.

Tags: agriculture Congress crops insurance news