Lawmakers are hearing mixed messages on crop insurance in Ohio

Farmers in Ohio strongly advocated for crop insurance during a hearing with members of the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, but some producers want the policies to be tested or shown more in promoting climate-friendly practices.

Bill Myers, a northeast Ohio farmer, urged Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

He said that the accident plans that were in place before crop insurance failed to provide assistance when farmers needed it the most.

“I am asking you to focus on not reducing the amount of subsidy because it will be difficult at this time with the increase in commodities, oil, everything else that has happened to us,” he said.

He added, “Let’s be busy and make sure we don’t create a problem or pull the rug out from the manufacturer at a time when we can’t afford it.”

Ohio Farmers Union President Joe Logan told lawmakers the program needs to be modified to address climate change.

“I think we need to reform crop insurance in a way that rewards farmers for building better soil,” Logan said. “This is a way we can all improve agricultural resilience and save money on crop insurance.”

He did not clearly explain that idea; the witnesses were allowed to speak to the MPs for a few minutes.

Eli Dean, an organic farmer whose family owns a 750-acre operation near Sandusky, said the crop insurance program ensures that growers are paid quickly in the event of a disaster, but he advocated limiting the amount of benefits that go to larger projects.

Congress should “put limits, caps, so that the biggest farms in the country can’t continue to grow, while smaller and smaller ones like ours can’t compete,” Dean said.

But Paul Herringshaw, a member of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, said the top priority for Ohio farmers is protecting the existing insurance system, which he said has been attacked from the left and the right. He said lawmakers should look at ways to improve the program “in terms of effectiveness and cost.”

Herringshaw, who farms near Bowling Green, also called for an increase in the price of wheat, saying that the current price “does not correspond to the current cost of production.”

According to a recent analysis by economists at The Ohio State University and the University of Illinois, the 2022 price of wheat production exceeds the prices expected in the Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage programs because the increase in the wheat market was about to increase the price. corn and soybeans. The 2024 PLC contract is expected to remain at $5.50, the acceptable minimum, while the ARC price is expected to be $5.39 a bushel.

Some growers also pressed the lawmakers to consider the needs of farmers who grow fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops.

Kristy Buskirk, who grows organic produce and cut flowers near Tiffin, said the location of the flash cooler is needed to make it easier to sell food locally.

“We want more money in local and regional food,” he said.

Vegetable grower Bob Jones of Huron, Ohio, said that specialty crops receive less funding in the farm bill that goes directly to agriculture; most of the money goes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the farm supply money goes mostly to row crops and dairy producers.

“We get a tick on the tail end of the dog,” Jones said of specialty crop farmers.

The sugar program was also affected. Kirk Vashaw, CEO of Spangler Candy Co. in Bryan, Ohio, which produces many popular candies and is the only candy manufacturer in the United States, asked the lawmakers to reform the sugar system to lower the price. .

Vashaw said the company has 40 jobs in Ohio and plans to bring another 200 to the manufacturing facility in Mexico. To do this, the company needs ssts to buy sugar from the United States at free market prices, he said.

The USDA supports domestic sugar prices by monitoring sugar sales.

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