The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 25, 2013

Crop insurance simply is the cost of doing business

Enid News & Eagle

— Earlier this month, we reported that most of Oklahoma’s wheat crop is rated fair or good by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

For 2012, a record $16 billion in crop insurance claims will be paid to farmers, according to The Associated Press, with the federal government subsidizing the premiums of private companies.

Lawmakers working on a new farm bill have considered a shift from disaster relief to more predictable crop insurance to protect farmers from nature’s fury.

Farmers already are facing inflation, investing $180 an acre. They never know when Mother Nature’s going to slap them with a hardship.

It’s hard for farmers to collect crop insurance unless they have a total loss.

Typically, 10 years of production is considered, and either drop your best or your worst year and take that average to work out your proven yield.

For farmers, crop insurance is simply the cost of doing business. Wheat farmers have always been on the low end of the totem pole on direct subsidy payoffs.

“Farming’s like going to Vegas, you just don’t have the dancing girls in front of you,” said Jeff Boedeker, a local farmer and rancher based in Waukomis who spends $35,000 a year for crop insurance.

Hail insurance is another estimated $20,000, he said.

As the subsidy debate is stirred, some critics say the government can’t afford to keep picking up the tab. But we need to keep crop insurance a viable option. And we don’t want to run out of food.

“It’s not a money-making proposition,” Ben Steffen, who has farms near Humboldt, Neb., told The Associated Press. “It’s a way to keep you from getting buried by a disaster.”

The government’s goal is to keep food prices manageable, but some people writing the policies don’t always understand the big picture.