North Dakota Farmers Want Change in Crop Insurance Payments

July 10, 2018

North Dakota’s largest farm group is pushing for adjustments to price adjustments to the PLC (Price Loss Coverage) program and to crop insurance payments to protect farmers from international trade retaliations.

The U.S. House and Senate versions of a new Farm Bill are heading to conference committee. The North Dakota Farmers Union sees the bill as an opportunity to raise reference prices for price loss coverage crop insurance plans,” the Bismarck Tribune reported .

“We should do it now,” said Mark Watne, president of the farmers union. “If you want to keep us whole, this is the best tool.”

The insurance plan provides payments when a commodity’s marketing year average price falls below the reference price set by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill. Marketing year average is determined through U.S. Department of Agriculture survey data from about 1,900 mills and elevators across the country of how much they paid for a given crop. Producers are then paid the difference.

Farmers are facing an unfriendly market as negotiations for new agreements with U.S. trade partners flounder. Canada announced new tariffs this week and China imposed $34 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products Friday.

“(President Donald Trump) has instructed me to craft a strategy to support our farmers in the face of retaliatory tariffs,” wrote Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we have tools at our disposal to support farmers faced with losses that might occur due to downturns in commodities markets.”

Many producer groups expressed interest Thursday in Watne’s price loss coverage proposal, which he said would trigger earlier payments. The House and Senate have done work on the other form of crop insurance offered that is based on yields, but there are oilseed and wheat producers in North Dakota who opted for PLC coverage who could benefit, Watne said.

North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said the proposal is a new idea and that she was unsure whether it would be addressed in conference committee.

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