Recent Media Mentions
The below articles highlight recent mentions of CIRB and crop insurance in the media
CIRB Executive Vice President Michael Torrey [said they are] helping to educate people, especially members of Congress, about the importance of crop insurance to the nation trying to dispel common misconceptions. “Developing the myth-facts sheets, creating the social media tool kits – it’s made a big difference,” he said.
Smith said this proposal is similar to Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, which requested to reduce premium subsidies to $40,000 and limit the popular harvest price option for crop insurance.
“We’ve seen [House and Senate] Chairs and ranking members dismiss these types of proposals because they understand the importance of crop insurance,” said Smith.
Managing risk-crop insurance, growers’ most important risk-management tool, faces threats in the new budget.
Data from the Government Accountability Office in 2011 showed that 26 percent of crops covered would be negatively impacted by a $40,000 cap. “It actually hits a lot of farmers,” says Tara Smith, vice president of federal affairs at Michael Torrey Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based agricultural lobbying firm. “It’s not just big farmers; it’s not just wealthy farmers. It disproportionately hits farmers who grow high-value crops and farmers who are in high-risk areas and need crop insurance the most.” Those are also the reasons the USDA has cited in calling this idea “ill-advised.”
CIRB also criticized the report. “GAO’s recommendation to cut billions from the effective and efficient private sector delivery system for crop insurance was already proposed in 2015 and resoundingly rejected – not just by those involved in the private sector delivery system, but by farmers, ranchers, lenders, conservation groups and ag input organizations,” said Tara Smith, a vice president of Michael Torrey & Associates who spoke for CIRB. “Cuts to the private sector will result in fewer options for farmers and a less efficient delivery of assistance to farmers when they need it most.” “It wasn’t a good idea two years ago and it’s still not a good idea,” Smith said.
Ag policy experts expect crop insurance to be a major target for legislators looking for cuts. “Our opposition wants to cut the discount that farmers get on their premiums and make cuts to the private sector delivery,” says Tara Smith, vice president of federal affairs at Michael Torrey Associates, LLC. “A lot of folks want to add means testing to crop insurance. We know how to get the facts out there to defend against those changes.”
It’s a time-honored tradition for any legislative advocate to look for partners who can align politically. Over the history of U.S. farm bills – dating back to the 1930s – the “traditional” farm organizations have aligned with a wide variety of other special interest organizations, ranging from labor unions to nutrition advocates and conservation groups. “The rules of the game have changed,” added Mike Torrey, principal and founder of Michael Torrey Associates. “Today, effective lobbying takes building alliances across industries and party affiliations. A single voice is not often heard, but a diverse coalition can elevate an issue and deliver real results. It’s not easy, but it is effective.”
Convention panel discusses threats to farmers’ safety nets. Tara Smith, vice president of federal affairs with Michael Torrey & Associates, a governmental affairs firm in Washington, D.C., that represents the crop insurance and reinsurance bureau, said private sector delivery, means testing and cuts to the premium discount are the areas she expects to see targeted in the coming year.
The federal crop insurance program is financially sound and growing, but continues to look for ways to expand its offerings and reduce its already low improper payment rate, RMA Administrator Brandon Willis said.
A broadening alliance of farm, conservation and food industry groups are joining crop insurers to urge Congress to protect crop insurance in the federal budget. “As the Budget Committees develop and consider budget proposals for the year, we respectfully urge you to protect crop insurance and recognize its central importance to farmers, lenders and all of rural America,” said the 58-member coalition in a Feb. 25 letter sent to Capitol Hill.
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today is pleased to announce House and Senate passage of H.R. 22, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The FAST Act includes a provision to restore a $3 billion crop insurance cut originally included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. During a colloquy on the Senate Floor in October, Chairman Roberts highlighted an agreement he brokered with Senate leadership to restore crop insurance funds by the end of the year. “When the cuts to crop insurance were announced earlier this year, the message from farm country could not have been clearer: do not target crop insurance,” Roberts said.
The budget bill passed last month contained $3 billion in cuts to the crop insurance program, with promises to fix the cut in passage later this year. Tuesday the negotiated text of the long-term highway bill included language to restore the crop insurance cuts, gaining praise from agricultural interests. Crop industry associations called it a “disastrous provision that would have devastated crop insurance as we know it today, harming U.S. farmers and taxpayers alike.”
In a ratio interview, Michael Torrey of CIRB, discusses how CIRB is determined to make sure Congress acts to roll back the cuts. He highlights the need for farmers and ranchers to get involved by pressing lawmakers to restore cuts to crop insurance in the next spending bill.
Farm groups are urging lawmakers to follow through with their promise to reverse crop insurance cuts contained in the budget deal, and to do so without making cuts to other farm bill programs. In a letter to the Senate on Thursday, the 49 agriculture organizations argue that the industry made money-saving efforts as part of the 2014 farm bill and warn that the “budget deal would gut the private sector delivery of crop insurance.”
If it wasn’t obvious before, it is now: In Washington farm policy, crop insurance rules. A move to limit profits for insurers and require the industry to renegotiate its terms with the government, designed to save $3 billion in the budget deal moving through Congress, instantly brought an all-hands-on-deck effort from the House and Senate agriculture committees to overturn the provisions. They seem to be succeeding. Support for crop insurance in Farm Belt districts is only slightly lower than that for motherhood and American flag lapel pins.
October 29: (Senate Agriculture Committee)
Chairman Roberts: Senate Leadership Commits to Bipartisan Fix to Restore Crop Insurance in Omnibus
Having secured a commitment from House and Senate leadership to restore the federal crop insurance program in a year-end spending bill, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., today announced his support for the Bipartisan Budget Act to ensure crop insurance remains the most important risk management tool for American producers. Release: http://1.usa.gov/1jUmdhu
Senate Colloquy on Crop Insurance: Watch
House Republicans are facing a last-minute uprising against Speaker John Boehner’s budget deal, as dozens of GOP lawmakers are telling leadership they might vote against the package because of changes to crop insurance programs, and other concerns.