Crop Insurance Accountability Act Closes Loophole in House Farm Bill

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to underwrite the risk of draining wetlands or foregoing good conservation practices.”

06-05-2013 // Julie Sibbing

The National Wildlife Federation commends Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) for their leadership in introducing The Crop Insurance Accountability Act today in the House of Representatives.

Trees store carbon

This important legislation would ensure the continuation of a “conservation compact” between taxpayers and farmers that has been in place for decades, whereby producers protect wetlands and reduce soil erosion on their land in exchange for taxpayer subsidies. The bill mirrors a provision in the Senate Agriculture Committee’s version of the Farm Bill, which makes producers ineligible for crop insurance premium subsidies if they drain wetlands or fail to use a conservation plan on vulnerable land. This commonsense measure is supported by the major conservation, commodity, and crop insurance groups. Unfortunately, the House Agriculture Committee failed to include this important link between wetland and soil conservation and crop insurance subsidies in their version of the bill, despite overwhelming support.

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to underwrite the risk of draining wetlands or foregoing good conservation practices” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We are at risk of repeating the mistakes leading to the Dust Bowl, if we do not close the loophole that would allow farmers to receive crop insurance premium subsidies without being held accountable for practicing good stewardship on the land.”

Wetland conservation and soil conservation practices – commonly known as conservation compliance – have long been required as a condition for receiving certain farm bill subsidies. However, conservation compliance provisions are not currently required to receive crop insurance premium subsidies, which results in taxpayers subsidizing more than 60 percent of crop insurance premiums, on average.

“As traditional commodity crop subsidies are reduced or eliminated, and conservation funding decreases, it is critically important to close this loophole which threatens soil and water quality as well as wildlife habitat,” Schweiger said. “Without linking these key soil and wetlands protections to the federal crop insurance program, the estimated $90 billion from taxpayer subsidies for crop insurance over the next 10 years could do a lot of damage. Soil erosion will choke waterways and destroy fish and wildlife habitat, and hundreds of thousands of acres of valuable wetlands will be lost, causing increased flooding and water pollution.”

“We strongly urge members of the House of Representatives to support The Crop Insurance Accountability Act and include it in the final version of the farm bill,” Schweiger said.

Related Resources
  • Learn more about the Farm Bill and ensure that worthy Farm Bill conservation programs are reauthorized at appropriate levels, structured to achieve maximum wildlife and environmental benefits, and fully funded during the annual appropriations process.
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