We all owe a great debt to farmers

Art Cullen’s “abetting crime” article is out of touch, angry and incorrect.

He is clearly mad at crop insurance, an important tool that allows farmers to farm better by hedging against market and production risks. But it is not clear why.

He claims it encourages farmers to farm poorly so that they can collect insurance claims, but the data does not support this. Last year, the loss ratio (total premium paid/total losses paid) for Iowa was .20. That means only 20 cents in claims were paid for every $1 paid in premiums. Some years that ratio is inverted — like 2012 with the historic drought — but this is the nature of insurance and generally the data indicates crop insurance is encouraging good farming, not bad.

Productivity on farms is also increasing. The expected national average corn production this year is expected to hit nearly 175 bushels/acre. This compares to about 115 bushels/acre when legislators “put the hail companies in charge” of crop insurance in the early 1980s. Total acres devoted to farming in the U.S. are not going up as Mr. Cullen seems to state, but going down. Farmers are in fact making investments to farm better each year, and the protection afforded by crop insurance helps them do this.

Finally, Mr. Cullen states there is no “conservation compliance” required by crop insurance. This is false. Farmers have to meet high conservation standards before they can purchase crop insurance.

My father was also an agent for Federal Crop Insurance, beginning in 1958. The program has undergone tremendous change in that time with the federal government continuing to create the policies and determine appropriate premium rates.

Mr. Cullen needs to restrict his diet to facts rather than wild speculation. We all owe a great debt to the farmers who take great risks to make us the land of plenty while also taking care of our land and water resources.


Sac City