Farmers need to earn a fair price for their crops. Farmworkers should earn a fair price for their work. The public should not be subsidizing mega-farms that harm our environment. There are many ways the current system fails us, but OEFFA is committed to the long-term work needed to create marketplace equity.
The crop insurance program provides critical protections for farmers. Often called the farm “safety net,” the program started in the 1930s when many farms were decimated by the Dust Bowl and low commodity prices, as a way of protecting American farmers from the uncertainties of weather and market fluctuations. The program has changed dramatically since that time. Now farmers have subsidized crop insurance and may also receive disaster assistance.
Modernizing crop insurance can reward good conservation practices and ensure that sustainable and beginning farmers are not at an economic disadvantage.
Crop insurance is an important tool for protecting farmers, but the program currently excludes many types of farms and farmers, presents barriers to farmers that want to implement sustainable practices, and subsidizes farm consolidation.
- Crop insurance premium subsidies are unlimited, which provides the largest producers with a publicly funded source of revenue to buy more land, allowing them to out-compete small farmers and beginning farmers. This inflates land prices beyond the reach of many family farmers. In 2014, researchers found that 12-14 percent of the value of farmland could be explained by farm policy payments.
- The limited availability of policies for specialty and organic crops discourages farmers from growing the crops that are best suited to the land and climate. Most policies, especially those for fruit, vegetables, and organic crops, are only available in a few areas. For example, the policy for green beans is only available in three states and the strawberry policy is only available in one.
- A significant number of farmers interested in trying cover crops did not do so because they were concerned about complications with crop insurance.
We need to level the playing field for family farmers, protect beginning farmers’ access to land and credit, encourage environmental stewardship, and remove disincentives to innovation and diversified farming.