USDA

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2020 budget would increase crop insurance costs to the point that wheat growers could have trouble staying in business, the National Association of Wheat Growers says.

The Trump administration would make crop insurance policies more expensive at a time when input costs are already high and commodity prices are low, NAWG said in a press release.

“Crop insurance is our first place of relief when things don’t go well in farming,” Ben Scholz, NAWG president and Lavon, Texas, wheat farmer, told the Capital Press.

Among the changes Trump’s budget proposes:

• Limit crop insurance subsidies to farmers with less than $500,000 in adjusted gross income, saving $641 million over 10 years.

• Reduce the average premium cost share level for crop insurance from 62% to 48%, saving $22.116 billion over 10 years.

• Cap underwriting gains to insurance companies at 12% — a reduction of $2.948 billion over 10 years.

Farmers have to decide where in their budget to make cuts, Scholz said, adding that some might just opt out of crop insurance.

Scholz, 72, said he is at retirement age. He’s at a point where he’s not likely to take on the risk of farming without crop insurance, he said.

The premium increases would also have long-term negative effects on the viability of the overall crop insurance program, he said.

Scholz noted that Congress recently passed a farm bill by historic margins on both sides of the aisle that rejected many of these “misguided” cuts to agriculture proposed in Trump’s budget request.

“The president is looking for items that might not impact things too badly, but I think he missed the target on this,” he told the Capital Press.

Field Reporter, Spokane

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