As Congress moves toward a budget deal, a $3 billion cut to crop insurance is now on the table. This comes after the money was approved as part of the 2014 farm bill, and the proposal is not sitting well with some Midwest senators.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says in a party caucus Monday, he and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) both expressed frustration over pulling more from farm programs. The current five-year farm bill, which includes crop insurance, other agricultural subsidies and many other programs like school nutrition and rural development, was passed early last year.
"The principle is, you shouldn't break into a farm bill and change it in the middle," Grassley says, "and that’s what this is doing." Changing mid-course strips away the promise of certainty that Grassley says the farm bill has aimed to offer farmers.
Another issue, Grassley says, is that if a stripped-down crop insurance program no longer appeals to farmers, they won't participate. Then they would seek emergency relief when their crops are devastated by natural disasters or political upheaval and Grassley says that would ultimately cost taxpayers more than the current system.
"The public-private partnership keeps emergency disaster relief measures at the minimum and encourages individual risk management," Grassley says. "The negotiators of this [budget] package could be putting the entire program at risk."
Grassley adds that farmers have shouldered their share of budget cuts already.