Could the next farm bill see a change in the cost of crop insurance?

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- Local lawmakers are looking to change how much money is made off crop insurance, which would affect several area farmers.

Crop insurance is like car insurance, but for farmer's fields, something they rely on in case bad growing conditions. Changing how much money is collected by insurance companies for crop insurance and how much it costs to pay for these programs would affect nearly half of Eau Claire County and about one-third of Chippewa County.

Crop insurance is a risk management tool that many farmers buy every year.

“There’s always that discussion going on between the crop insurance adjuster and the farmer as to what the actual productive level of the field being assessed is, it's a little bit of give and take,” said Mark Hagedorn the Eau Claire County UW-Extension Agriculture agent.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office finds that if we reduce the amount of money insurance companies earn, the USDA could reduce program costs by hundreds of millions of dollars; something one local lawmaker says is another reason crop insurance is in need of a major reform.

In a press release, Representative Ron Kind says, "As we start discussing the next farm bill, I hope we can work together in a bipartisan way to make the crop insurance program more responsive to the needs of Wisconsin family farmers, consumers, and taxpayers."

Eau Claire and Chippewa counties agriculture agents say they expect to see a random selections of crop insurance claims this year across the state. They add it’s really the only major security farmers have, aside from marketing today, because of the lack of federal funding.

“Some say it's the only game in town, from a cropping standpoint,” Chippewa County UW-Extension Agriculture agent, Jerry Clark said. “But crop insurance has replaced any of federal programs that used to step in where you had a disaster regionally or statewide.”

Agriculture agents say they're also looking to see how the next farm bill plays out as it's up for renewal in 2018.

Local ag agents adds that the majority of money allotted in the nation's farm bill go toward the SNAP program; the small bit, about 25 percent they say is left behind is split, and includes crop disaster assistance, another reason, crop insurance is heavily used by farmers today.

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