Centered around OEFFA member proposals to make crop insurance fair, functional, and informed, the Platform includes recommended farm bill actions and changes to the crop insurance subsidy rate brackets. If implemented, the crop insurance program would better support small-scale, organic, beginning, and transitioning farmers, address disparities in crop insurance benefits and utilization, and save an estimated $5 billion over 10 years.
Farming is an industry associated with a high level of risk. Uncertainties in global markets and weather impact prices, yields, and income. Crop insurance is intended as a safety net to mitigate some of these risks and ensure stability in the nation’s food supply.
However, the federal crop insurance program (FCIP) remains inaccessible for many farmers, especially small, beginning, limited resource, diverse, transitioning, and organic farmers.
“I’d like to see crop insurance structured so that farms that are providing food directly to surrounding communities are the ones that are benefitting most,” said Ben Jackle of Mile Creek Farm in New Lebanon, Ohio.
Burdened by barriers to entry or Risk Management Agency (RMA)-established planting dates that don’t align with their conservation practices, OEFFA farmers have regularly met since 2022 to envision a crop insurance program that works for everyone. They have developed member proposals to make crop insurance fair, functional, and informed.
With considerations from organic grain farmers with thousands of planted acres as well as small, diversified producers supplying fresh produce to local communities, these member proposals suggest improved accessibility to Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, expanded Natural Resources Conservation Service technical capacity, and required organic literacy within RMA, to name a few.
“OEFFA farmers have organized around crop insurance, noticing what’s working, what is not working,” said OEFFA Organic Policy Specialist, Julia Barton. “They are asking for a crop insurance program that works for everyone—one that is fair, functional, and informed.”
Additionally, OEFFA members propose an adjustment to crop insurance subsidy rate brackets. Functioning like marginal tax rates, proposed changes reflect the value of the annual insurance premium, and suggest an increase to subsidy rates for premiums valued at or under $10,000 while reducing the subsidy for policies valued at more than $100,000. The vast majority of farmers hold policies somewhere in the middle, and their subsidies would not be affected.
Ultimately, this has the potential to address current disparities in crop insurance benefits for small- to medium-scale operations while requiring no change to the existing actuarial system.
Barton continued, “OEFFA members want a crop insurance system that serves the needs of farmers facing a changing climate.”
The 2023 Farm Bill presents an opportunity to strengthen the crop insurance program so that it works better as the safety net it’s intended to be. Improvements made now have the potential to support farmers, communities, and our nation’s food supply well into the future.
Learn more about OEFFA’s efforts to make crop insurance more fair, functional, and informed at action.oeffa.com/crop-insurance-platform.