Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crop Insurance and Disaster--Sen. Lincoln

Chris Clayton posts on the proposals to cut federal reimbursement of crop insurance companies by $4 billion over the next 5 years.  He includes this:
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Committee Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., along with 24 other senators sent a letter to USDA's Risk Management Agency on Wednesday asking the department to "refrain from making deep cuts to the federal crop insurance program," citing that a vibrant crop-insurance industry is vital to the agricultural economy.
I don't exactly qualify as unbiased, but there's an interesting contrast here.  Sen. Lincoln has been pushing for special disaster assistance for her farmers because of losses this year. Part of the reason help is needed is farmers have settled for cheap CAT insurance coverage, and have failed to buy the higher priced policies from the private companies. That seems to indicate some problems somewhere in the crop insurance system.  And her proposal for disaster aid is one way to undercut crop insurance: presumably if farmers knew disaster aid was not available, they'd be more willing to buy crop insurance.  So Lincoln (like others) is talking out of both sides of her mouth: on the one hand it's important to have a good crop insurance system and have farmers buy policies; on the other we must help those who don't buy full coverage.  The poor taxpayer ends up paying both ways. 

No comments: