Intended for New Farm Bill, Legislation Would Enhance Risk Management Tool for Producers

040924 FARMER Act News Conference
VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Cites Mississippi Producers’ Woes in Making Case for Improving Crop Insurance Programs.
VIDEO:  Patrick Johnson of Tunica, National Cotton Council Vice Chairman, Advocates for FARMER Act.
PHOTO:  Senator Hyde-Smith speaks at news conference. Left to right: Patrick Johnson of the National Cotton Council, Mark Watne of the North Dakota Farmers Union, Kenneth Hartman of the National Corn Growers Association, Senators Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.).

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Tuesday helped introduce legislation that seeks to make crop insurance more affordable for agricultural producers beset by higher input costs and outdated federal farm safety net policies.

Hyde-Smith is an original cosponsor of the Federal Agriculture Risk Management Enhancement and Resilience (FARMER) Act (S.4081) which was authored by U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.).  Hyde-Smith and Patrick Johnson of Tunica, National Cotton Council Vice Chairman, joined Hoeven at a news conference Tuesday to advocate for the legislation.

“Spending almost 80 percent of Farm Bill dollars on nonfarm-related programs is unacceptable, especially considering the enormous pressures under which our farmers operate.  There is room to strengthen the farm safety net—both crop insurance and Title I commodity programs.  I'm proud to stand with Senator Hoeven and my Republican colleagues in introducing the FARMER Act,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee.

“Farmers want crop insurance and farmers need crop insurance.  The biggest obstacle for farmers purchasing the level of crop insurance they want to is the cost, not the desire,” Johnson said on behalf of the Cotton Council.  He added that the FARMER Act would move farmers “away from the inefficient and expensive ad hoc assistance that has been prevalent for the past several years.”

S.4081 (summary) would improve crop insurance affordability by increasing premium support for the highest levels of coverage and by enhancing the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO).  The legislation, which is being considered for inclusion in a new Farm Bill, would:

  • Increase premium support for higher levels of crop insurance coverage, which will enhance affordability and reduce the need for ad-hoc disaster assistance.
  • Improve the SCO by increasing premium support and expanding the coverage level, providing producers with an additional level of protection. 
  • Direct the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to conduct a study to improve the effectiveness of SCO in large counties. 
  • Not require producers to choose between purchasing enhanced crop insurance coverage or participating in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, giving them flexibility to make decisions that work best for their operations. 

Additional original cosponsors include Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.) and U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.).

Among the many agricultural groups supporting the legislation are the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cotton Council, American Soybean Association, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, and National Sunflower Association.

Hyde-Smith has continued to conduct listening sessions with Mississippi farmers and ranchers to gain input on Farm Bill issues, including recent meetings in DeSoto, Calhoun, and Pike counties.