Senator Brown’s Call for Action Heard

Following action taken by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it would begin to update its methodology for setting crop insurance premium rates to ensure that corn and soybean producers throughout the Midwest pay lower, more-fair rates. The move follows a letter sent by nine senators, led by Brown, calling on the USDA to follow the recommendations of a 2011 independent study commissioned by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). The study recommended changes to the methods used to calculate crop insurance premiums for corn and soybean producers, who pay a higher premium than they should in the Midwest when compared to relative risk.

“Crop insurance is a critical risk management tool for Ohio farmers, but Midwest producers have been shouldering more than their fair share of the burden for too long,” Brown said. “Beginning to update how crop insurance premiums are calculated is a huge win for Ohio farmers, but the USDA’s Risk Management Agency can and must do more.  The recommendations of the independent study should be implemented promptly and in full.”  

Under current methodology, crop insurance rates are set for producers using historical crop production and price data. Many experts have contended that farmers in Midwestern states like Ohio overpay for crop insurance because natural disasters are much less frequent than in other regions of the county. The RMA-commissioned study, released earlier this month, showed that the Midwestern corn and soybean farmers had a markedly lower risk for corn and soybean production than implied by current crop insurance rates. 

In Ohio, the methodology adjustments announced today should reduce corn farmers’ rates by 7 percent and soybean farmers’ by 9 percent on average. However, full implementation of the independent study’s recommendations would result in even greater reductions to premiums.

Dale Minyo talked with Senator Brown about this call to action.

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