FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sara Robertson (Sara.Robertson2@mail.house.gov)
Lawrence County Farmers Bend Congressman’s Ear
Walnut Ridge — Crop insurance, input costs, and Risk Management Agency (RMA) standards were the top concerns among farmers at the Lawrence County Farm Bureau breakfast on Thursday. Representative Rick Crawford (AR-01) attended the breakfast as part of his listening tour as Congress prepares to write a new Farm Bill, which is federal legislation that sets policies for vital farm programs and is renewed every 5 years.
Lawrence County Farm Bureau President Jeff Worlow kicked off the meeting with questions about RMA’s recent decision to redesignate 20,000 acres located in five counties in Northeast Arkansas as high-risk. In addition to Lawrence County, farmers in Craighead, Greene, Jackson, and Randolph face significant crop insurance rate increases.
With a February 28th deadline looming for crop insurance enrollment, farmers that participate in the program are growing increasingly anxious.
“This is very reminiscent of how FEMA draws their flood maps and often forces people to purchase flood insurance that they might not necessarily need. It feels as though this is a way to generate more revenue for their agency,” said Crawford. “I also haven’t seen any reasoning for this increase and have directed staff reach out for more information on this sudden change.”
“What bothers me is the chance that these crop insurance rates will continue to go up and farmers can’t participate in crop insurance because it becomes totally unhelpful to them. This means that the entire crop insurance portion of the Farm Bill becomes cut off,” said Farm Bureau member, Greg Baltz.
The rising input costs on farms was also a topic of conversation. In this past year, fuel and fertilizer costs reached historic highs, both of which farmers rely on to grow and harvest their crops. Producers are paying 115 percent more for diesel and fertilizer spiked 125 percent. Last year, Rep. Crawford co-sponsored the Reducing Farm Input Costs and Barriers to Domestic Production Act and joined over 100 of his Republican colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden outlining policy changes that could lower these costs.
“Crop insurance has to morph into something different to allow us to compete with higher input costs. My expenses this past year compared to the last 3 years is awful and there is no coming down from that,” said one member.
“One of the problems with input costs is that we have outsourced input production such as fertilizer. When you put 50 percent of chemical fertilizer in the hands of foreign entities, don’t be surprised when they start manipulating and doing things that increase costs to farms,” said Crawford.
“Everything I hear from you guys I weave into my work legislatively so these conversations are incredibly useful and vital to the job of advocating for my district in Washington,” Crawford concluded.
Crawford represents the First District of Arkansas, which runs from Boone County through Mississippi County as well as down the eastern part of the state. He is a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee and has served in the U.S House since 2011.