July 28, 2012 in Letters, Opinion

Crop insurance clarified


I feel a July 15 article about crop insurance led readers astray.

Crop insurance is designed to protect farmers when times are tough such as natural disasters, drought, disease and, yes, bad prices. This component is necessary because, unlike most other industries, local wheat farmers are unable to set their own prices. Wheat farmers compete in a world market and are price-takers, not price-setters. Farmers do not collect insurance when prices are high. Similarly, farmers do not receive crop insurance payments when there is no drought or natural disaster anymore than a driver collects insurance when there is no accident.

Family farms in Eastern Washington not only grow healthy and safe crops, but they grow them in the most sustainable ways possible. The expenses farmers face rise every year. These expenses cannot be passed on to buyers. If they were, our food costs would be exponentially higher. Americans spend just 9.5 percent of their income on food – less than any other country. Also, federal crop insurance does not shift all risk to the taxpayers, as farmers pay the lion’s share. Crop insurance is simply one tool that helps keep our families on the farm and stabilizes food prices for the consumer.

Eric Maier

Ritzville, Wash.

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