I want to thank each and every one of you who attended this year’s crop meetings either in Fargo, Maddock, Wishek, Minot, or Hebron. All the meetings were well attended and had incredibly positive feedback! We strive to educate, promote, and administer the crop insurance programs to each of our insureds. As we prepare for the planting season, we are seeing delays across the state. In almost uniform reports we are seeing a generous melt, with the soil absorbing the bulk of the moisture with very little run-off. This has been a function of little-to-no frost line, moderate temperatures, and cooler nights. Consensus is May 10th for most insureds to start rolling.
Here is a brief update of what the office has been up to since sales closing:
- April 11th: I was asked to be part of a round table discussion for Senator Boozeman and Senator Earnst. Senator Boozeman is the ranking member on the Senate Ag Committee and, of course, Senator Earnst is on the committee as well, being from Iowa. I was detained in Miami due to weather with no flights out and unfortunately missed the roundtable. Another lobbyist in our family was able to make it on behalf of North Dakota and represented us well (Dennis Klosterman). Senator Boozeman knows our position on the farm bill since Becky and I were able to have dinner with him and Senator Hoeven last September.
- April 17th-19th: Fly-In event. I was able to partake in this event as well as thirty-three other crop agents from across the country. Our group had 203 meetings over 2 days with members of the House, Senate, and USDA. My schedule was:
- Tina Smith (D-MN)
- Betty McCollum (D-MN)
- Jon Cornyn (R-TX)
- Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
- John Boozeman (R-ND)
- Dusty Johnson (R-SD)
- John Hoeven (R-ND)
- Kevin Hern (R-OK)
- Andy Harris (R-MD)
- Undersecretary Bonnie USDA
- John Thune (R-SD)
- Mike Rounds (R-ND)
- Brad Finstad (R-SD)
- G.T Thompson (R-PA)
- Kelly Armstrong (R-ND)
- Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
- Rudy Yakym (R-IN)
- David Valadao (R-CA)
This is a busy time for legislators as so many groups and organizations make their way to D.C to present their asks for the upcoming farm bill. I had overheard the fruits organization having 109 key asks alone! Everyone who is a stakeholder will undoubtedly have their own asks for the upcoming farm bill and of course all the opposition amendments as well. My belief is that we need to do away with AD-Hoc disaster programs and strengthen the underlying MPCI.
The government has spent over $90 billion on AD-Hoc in the last 5 years alone. Prior to that, there was no AD-Hoc for the previous 15 years. The past several times I have been to Washington our message was simple, “Due no harm to crop insurance. It’s working.” The last 5 years have proven the point that the baseline needs to be reset as we are not in the same world we were in 20 years ago.
There are so many proposals on how to strengthen the safety net from raising reference prices, to expanding programs, to shallow loss area plans. My proposal, on behalf of the agency, is simply to raise the subsidy rates at the higher levels of coverage, encouraging producers to protect their individual farms at the highest coverage levels. I have submitted my proposal at all my meetings and have had enormous support from my colleagues across the nation.
I firmly believe that the Senate will pass a farm bill this year with a majority of support. The House is a lot murkier and the path to a House passage, along with a bill they reconcile, is harder to see this year. The usual fights will emerge from SNAP work requirements to tying to conservation and of course, means testing (AGI Limits). The good news is that every meeting was productive and informative and, me always being the optimist, believes in the end everyone will do what is best for production agriculture!
This was released on Friday April 21. Proof that the process, although flawed, has some merit!
- Senate Agriculture Committee Leaders Send Budget Request Letter to Senate Budget Committee Leadership, Say Additional Financial Resources are Necessary to Strengthen Farm and Food Safety Nets – Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Republican Member, Senator John Boozeman (R-AR), recently sent a letter to Senate Budget Committee leaders requesting additional resources as they begin to write the next Farm Bill. The leaders wrote, “The Committee recently completed a series of hearings on the 12 titles of the Farm Bill and through this process it became clear that additional financial resources will be necessary to strengthen our farm and food safety nets.” The leaders wrote, “[W]e would ask you to recognize that since 2018, the Federal Government has approved more than $90 billion in AD-Hoc assistance for farmers and ranchers in response to Chinese tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports, the pandemic, and increasingly unpredictable climate-related disasters. A commitment to additional financial resources for the farm bill will help to transition our farm and food supplies away from AD-Hoc support. The Committee also respectfully requests the inclusion of a reserve fund in the FY24 budget resolution to provide budget flexibility should our spending authority be increased.”
These photos were used for the press releases.