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Congressman Kevin Yoder

Representing the 3rd District of Kansas

VIDEO: USDA Sec. Perdue to Rep. Yoder, ‘No Disagreement from Me on Value of Crop Insurance’

May 24, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – This morning, Representative Kevin Yoder (R-KS) discussed the value of crop insurance for farmers around the country with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture.

Secretary Perdue agreed with Representative Yoder that crop insurance is an integral part of protecting farmers and their risk-taking.

To watch a video of the hearing, click here.

Following is the exchange between Rep. Yoder and Secretary Perdue transcribed:

REPRESENTATIVE YODER:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.

“Mr. Secretary thanks for your testimony today. I know you have a big task ahead of you trying to balance the needs of a growing economy, and a world that depends on American agriculture. We’re the most efficient, effective producing agriculture country in the world, so as goes America so goes the rest of the world. Your work is critical to feeding so many people and we have such a charitable mission here, many of us are aware of the work we do around the globe, sending food aid to nations supporting so many hungry people and part of that is making sure we have a strong agriculture economy here in the United States.

I grew up on a farm in Kansas and believe so strongly that our farmers are the core of what makes America great, their values, their work ethic, and what they do is essential to what makes America such a strong country. So I have a couple questions I want to ask you about.

“In the 2014 farm bill, we made a number of reductions and the president signed into law – 80% of the farm bill is the SNAP program – farmers took a very disproportionate share of the reductions in spending cuts in that bill. One of the programs that we found that was very important for farmers repeatedly discussed with us is the crop insurance program.

“I noted in the president’s budget request a 36% reduction over 10 years for crop insurance and I thought I would give you the chance to discuss the value of crop insurance and how you might see these reductions going and how important it is to maintain this program to keep a safety net for farmers. I’d also note that the agriculture economy is really struggling right now. You know, I grew up in the 80s where we saw a lot of our neighbors go bankrupt and we worried the same thing was going to happen to us. In 2017, commodity prices aren’t where they need to be so this safety net is critical for farmers who are struggling to maintain their farms at this point.

SECRETARY PERDUE:

Sir I think you won’t get any disagreement from me regarding the value of crop insurance.

“As part of that safety net, the 2014 farm bill was very wise in its construct in moving away from the direct payments into an ARC and PLC type-program. I side with crop insurance giving much of the responsibility providing for that safety net to the farmers themselves, as you indicated the budget retools that crop insurance sometimes with some means testing and other things there that reduce that.

“We know that farming is a very expensive enterprise today. Farmers when you grew up, and certainly when I grew up, you might could feed a family of four and put some kids through college on maybe 360 acres, it’s almost ten times that much now, so it’s bigger. Farming is expensive and has a lot of risk involved in it. I doubt many of us today would want to put all of our equity in the ground looking for a seed to come up each year.

We know the dedication of them and our nation is a beneficiary of their risk-taking and those values you described. Crop insurance is an integral part of that.

“How we right size that, I think the goal of the farm bill, these are obviously policies you know will really be determined in the 2018 farm bill, from a budget perspective there will be a lot of these discussions going forward. My principle goal as USDA secretary is advise and consult you all as you deal with the farm bill, programs that let the market determine what people plan. They shouldn’t be planning for USDA programs or agriculture programs, but let the market determine the ability to move among and create products and produce products the world is asking for, rather than farming for a particular program. A little bit of that, the farm bill has worked essentially very well, there are a few issues this congress that your chairman knows, in cotton and dairy that have not been successful. But overall I think it’s been a successful farm bill.”

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