ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Farm Bureau members will head home today as the American Farm Bureau Federation wraps up its 99th annual convention in Nashville. That follows yesterday policy meetings where delegates set the Farm Bureau policy for the next year. Among other issues, the delegates voted to add more direction to negotiators working on the 2018 Farm Bill. Farm Bureau members would like to improve the ARC county yield data to give the Risk management Agency more accurate numbers when figuring out average county yields as part of the commodity title in the bill. Delegates also voted to strengthen crop insurance in a new farm bill and to include a new dairy revenue protection program that would work with the Livestock Gross Margin Program. And they also voted to support the recently passed House Disaster bill that would classify milk as a commodity for insurance purposes. Farm Bureau members also voted to increase their dues to the organization by one dollar to help offset a one and a half million dollar deficit that organization leaders say has been partially caused by a flat lining in membership. Members also re-elected Zippy Duvall of Georgia to a second term as president.
At this week's Farm Bureau convention, President Trump said he expects to have a farm bill written on schedule and it would be written to work for rural America-and that includes a crop insurance provision that meets farmers' needs. But there are critics of that program in Congress who call in nothing more than a subsidy program. But the numbers say otherwise. Recent USDA figures show that between 2015 and 2016 farmers bought almost 2.4 million crop insurance policies, paying $7.2 billion in premiums and absorbing $13.6 billion in losses as part of their deductible. And of those policies purchased, farmers only made claims on a little over 563,000 of those policies-meaning 1.8 million policies were never acted upon. Total payout on crop insurance claims during those two years was a little over $10 billion-which means the program put $10 billion in the federal treasury.
It looks like 2017 was a good year for the pork and beef industries in the United States. U.S. pork exports recorded the highest-ever monthly value in November while U.S. beef export value took another step toward a likely full-year value record, according to export results released by the USDA. Through the first 11 months of 2017, pork export volume remained on pace for a new record at almost 2 and a quarter million metric tons. November export value was a record-high $615.6 million, up 5 percent. Through November, pork export value for the year increased 10 percent to $5.9 billion. Beef exports reached almost 112,000 metric tons in November, down 3 percent from the large volume of November 2016 but still the second-highest monthly total of the year. Beef export value was also the second-largest of 2017 at $666.4 million, up 8 percent. In the first 11 months of the year, export volume totaled 1.15 million metric tons, up 7 percent, while export value climbed to $6.6 billion - up 15 percent from a year ago and slightly above the record pace of 2014.
Today is day one of the 40th annual Midwest Farm Show at the Lacrosse Center. The 2 day show will start at 9 this morning and run until 4 this afternoon with the same hours tomorrow. Besides the usual exhibits of farm equipment and supplies, visitors can see antique tractors, take part in health clinics and enjoy a Creature Encounter show on the stage at 11 and 1 both days. And it's free to get in.