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Covering the Crops

Flooded corn field

It is costing more…substantially more…for landowners to insure their crops than it did two decades ago, according to a recent report from The Environmental Working Group. And changing weather patterns are growing those costs, that report found.

The report included figures that illustrate how costs have changed for the USDA’S Federal Crop Insurance Program:

2002: $3 billion

2022: $19 billion

Those figures show that costs are more than six times higher over the period. For perspective, the overall annual inflation rate in the United States from 2002-2022 was about 2.5%.

Farmers have increasingly relied on the crop insurance program over the past 20 years for additional protection in weather-related disasters and price drops. Warmer temperatures, extended droughts and flooding have burdened farmers and landowners.

RELATED: Among those, drought, continues to be a serious problem in 2023. The U.S. Drought Monitor considers nearly one-third of the United States and Puerto Rico to be suffering from drought as November began.

EWG found that the top crop with the most indemnities from 2002-2022 was wheat in northern states like Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota. Corn was the top crop in states like South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois and Kentucky. While cotton was the top crop in states including South Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Louisiana.

Looking at those crops also shows how most of the overall payments went to farmers concentrated in 10 states. Those states -- California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas – received nearly $105 billion, which represents 65% of all crop insurance indemnities, according to EWG.

The EWG report includes this warning: “Without meaningful reform to this vital Department of Agriculture program, crop insurance costs will continue to spiral, burdening both farmers and taxpayers with astronomical expenses and doing little to provide an effective safety net for all farmers.

Congress must improve the Federal Crop Insurance Program in the upcoming farm bill to lower costs to taxpayers and to distribute payments more equitably among farmers.”


American Farmland Owner Hayfields mountains


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