he importance of crop insurance to meet the needs of a growing world population took center stage this week in Kansas City as agricultural leaders from more than 30 countries gathered for the International Association of Agricultural Production Insurers (AIAG) to learn more about the American system.
"The best crop insurance you can get is here in the U.S.," said Rainer Lagner while visiting a farm as part of the conference program. Lagner was one of the more than 250 participants and is the CEO of a German crop insurance company.
In addition to the farm tour, he and the others enjoyed a packed lineup of U.S. perspectives during the other sessions starting with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack who told the audience "crop insurance offers a lifeline. It is one of the most important, reliable, and cost-effective parts of the safety net here in the United States."
Additionally, Congressional leaders and champions of farm policy from the House and Senate addressed the crowd in taped videos. Rep. K. Michael Conaway, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, used the opportunity to explain that crop insurance has evolved over time to become the strong risk management tool it is today.
"The success of crop insurance in the U.S. hinges on the fact that it is a public-private partnership and not merely a government-led enterprise… While I believe the U.S. model works quite well, it didn't happen overnight. In fact, we continue to make constant improvements to ensure that producers have the best tools at their disposal," Conaway said.
He further advised in his taped video that with net farm income expected to drop 53 percent below 2013 levels this year, a strong commodity title in the farm bill is equally important to the survival of farmers. "That scenario alone demonstrates why we maintain a separate set of decoupled farm policies that are designed to complement crop insurance." Conaway explained.
The three-day conference moved across the spectrum of topics as they related to improving and expanding insurance coverage, all of it designed to address the challenge before us all: securing our food supply.
"Agriculture was, agriculture is, and agriculture will be the most important sector in the world because farmers are feeding the world's population," Kurt Weinberger, the president of AIAG, stated in his opening remarks. "It is the future for all of us."