WASHINGTON – On Friday, April 26, Congressman Andy Barr introduced H.R. 1789, the Creating Crop Insurance Certainty for Farmers Act. H.R. 1789, which is the third bill introduced by Congressman Barr this year, would require the Risk Management Agency (RMA) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give advance public notice and allow for a public comment period for any modification to insurance plans offered under the Federal Crop Insurance Act.
“Ensuring certainty for the Sixth District’s farmers is critical to the economic stability of Kentucky’s signature agriculture industry,” said Congressman Barr. “Farmers across central and eastern Kentucky have told me that they need more certainty and that they want to be more involved in the regulatory process. That is why I am proud to introduce The Creating Crop Insurance Certainty for Farmers Act. H.R. 1789 would require the RMA to give the public at least 60 days notice of any proposed changes to farmers’ existing crop insurance policies.”
“The purpose of these notices is to afford our farmers an opportunity and time to participate in the regulatory process and voice their concerns, as well as allow them to make informed planting and business decisions for the ensuing crop year should the RMA alter its existing policies,” continued Barr.
This legislation stems from the sudden December 18, 2012 decision by the RMA, the agency responsible for administering programs under the Federal Crop Insurance Act, to alter the 2013 Provisions of Insurance for Flue Cured and Burley Tobacco. This last-minute decision was made without ample notice or stakeholder input prior notice or stakeholder involvement. Moreover, such changes prevented many farmers who were previously covered for the 2013 planting season from receiving that coverage this year.
“Not only were Kentucky’s farmers unable to voice their concerns, but the RMA’s decision threatened their very livelihood as they had already purchased fertilizer, signed leases, and made other business decisions with the understanding that their land would be covered under the Federal Crop Insurance Program,” said Barr. “Had many of these farmers been made aware that they would no longer be eligible for coverage in 2013, they would have made other, more informed business decisions regarding their land, including rotating and growing different crops or letting their land grow forage.”
Barr continued, “This is another classic case of the bureaucratic federal government run amok, and Kentucky farmers are paying for it. I am investigating whether the RMA acted in violation of the Administration Procedures Act, the federal law that governs the way in which federal administrative agencies propose and implement regulations, by circumventing the traditional notice and comment period deadline requirements under that law. I have introduced this legislation to ensure such untimely and inconvenient changes to existing crop insurance policies never occur again to those farming any commodity. Such changes create economic uncertainty and are a barrier for sound business decision-making for farmers. We must provide Kentucky’s farmers with some level of certainty and confidence as they make their management decisions to risk a tremendous amount of capital by putting that seed in the ground.”
KY AGRICULTURE FACTS:
According to the most recently available U.S. Census of Agriculture, Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District is ranked 8th out of all 435 Congressional Districts in the highest value of tobacco sales, and 54th out of 435 in highest total value of ALL agriculture products sold.
Kentucky still leads the nation in burley tobacco production, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Kentucky is also currently second in the U.S. in total tobacco production and in the top 20 in corn, soybeans, winter wheat, hay, barley and sorghum. http://www.kentuckytourism.com/explore/kyfacts/facts.aspx