The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Ag

May 25, 2013

No cow insurance?

ENID, Okla. — It was evident from the hello the South Dakota rancher had practiced his pitch before he dialed my office.

“I’m (so and so),” he said in a clipped, clear voice, “an independent cow-calf producer west of the (Missouri) river with 500 cows. I’m calling with one question: Where do I go to sign up for revenue-based cow-calf insurance?”

I’m sorry, did you say “revenue-based cow-calf insurance?”

“I did,” replied the cowboy. “You know, like revenue-based federal crop insurance. Farmers get that now and they’ll get even more of when Congress passes the farm bill, right?”

Probably, yes, but I’m sure you know there’s no such thing as revenue-based, federally subsidized cow-calf insurance.

A long, tired sigh came across 750 miles of cellular ether.

“Well, yeah,” he said finally, “but somebody needs to ask why taxpayers are guaranteeing my neighbors $300 and $400 an acre profit through federal crop insurance to farm ranchland when I can’t buy any insurance — let alone subsidized insurance — to lock-in one-tenth of that by doing the land right and ranching it.”

It was my turn to sigh. No argument; you’re right.

“Being right won’t mean much when my neighbors rent or buy the land I rent to plant more corn and beans while you, me and taxpayers buy most of the insurance to guarantee them a profit and me a smaller ranch.”

No, it sure won’t.

That was late March and this is late May and being right still won’t matter because each version of the 2013 farm bill that cleared its respective congressional ag committee earlier this month includes expanded versions of today’s generous federal crop insurance programs.

In fact, some of the liveliest debates on the bills centered on how to grow the federal crop insurance program while keeping ag outsiders — mostly environmental, nutrition and conservation groups — from either placing restrictions on the expanding program or poaching some of its funds.

Each bill is far from any finish line, though. The Senate bill (soon to be voted on by the full Senate), for example, includes compromise wording that links conservation compliance with the new, bigger insurance program. The House farm bill does not.

But the Senate language carries a distinctive only-in-Washington ring: In return for agreeing to tie the subsidies to conservation guidelines, a standard in almost every farm bill since 1939, the committee agreed to eliminate any provision that would cut insurance subsidies to farmers with more than $750,000 adjusted gross incomes.

Sweet as that is — essentially, continue to do what you’re already doing and get even better coverage — some farm bill watchers now suspect the conservation part of the deal won’t survive the Senate-House conference to marry the two bills. They see the House version — no conservation compliance, no limits — gaining traction.

If so, my ranching pal’s future will sport more tractors and combines than cows and calves. Landlords and farmers, unleashed from any conservation requirement and able to buy cheap crop insurance that virtually assures a profit, will plow under more grass to plant more corn and beans.

But even if the Senate’s conservation linkage remains in the final bill, the rancher is headed for an almost equally woeful future because farm program benefits, be they direct payments or insurance subsidies, end up being capitalized in land.

That’s the biggest reason his cows and calves can’t compete with corn and beans now; the land has been made too valuable by the federal crop insurance guarantees paid for, in part, by you and me.

In fact, that puts you and me in the business of pretty much putting this rancher out of business as we underwrite the expansion of an already sweetly-subsidized government program.

And here I thought one of us was for limited government.

1
Text Only
Ag
  • Danna Zook cutout web.jpg Producers need to consider cow supplements

    Springtime for many Oklahoma producers often means calving time.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Master Gardener logocmyk.jpg It’s time to dirty hands

    Bees are venturing out to visit the new flowers. Keep a close watch on your garden. Often, helpful pest-destroying insects are out, getting ready to work for you, also. These, and the bees helpfully pollinating flowers, shouldn’t be discouraged by the undiscriminating spraying of insecticides.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • farm - 4H web.jpg 4-H’ers meet with state lawmakers

    Sen. Eddie Fields spoke to the group upon their arrival at the Capitol.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Canola tour to have stops in area

    The tour will be held at the canola field of Flying G Farms located 91⁄2 miles west of Orienta on U.S. 412 and then north into the field.

    April 12, 2014

  • farm - Rick Nelson web.jpg Money up front can mean bigger returns later

    Implants are a safe, effective technology that typically offer a 10-to-1 return on investment.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • FFA logo.jpg 9 area students to receive WLC program scholarships

    FFA members will tour our nation’s capital, visit with members of Congress and perform a service learning project within the Washington area, while building friendships with fellow FFA members from across the nation.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • FFA logo.jpg NW Oklahoma FFA members named proficiency finalists

    Three finalists are selected in each of 49 agricultural proficiency award categories. The state winner in each area will be announced April 30 during the 88th State FFA Convention held at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWDJLS_Swine_8_BV.jpg Today’s 4-H creating blue ribbon kids

    The constant that 4-H has is that we give kids an opportunity to excel in a niche that they can kind of create for themselves.” — Jim Rhodes, 4-H youth development program specialist for Northwest District

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • farm - Rick Nelson web.jpg Managing cowherd fertility is important

    Yet, recent survey data suggest only 18 percent of beef-cow operations in the United States evaluate the cowherd for pregnancy. This is unfortunate, since a large portion of the financial losses attributed to infertility in beef cows is attributed to maintaining open cows.

    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Master Gardener logocmyk.jpg Gardening workshop is April 12

    Dee Nash, a native of Oklahoma, will be the key note speaker. She will speak on “Lemonade Gardening: Making the Best of Extreme Conditions or Lemonade out of Lemons.”

    March 22, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Facebook