Extreme weather conditions in the Wheat Belt reinforce need for strong farm bill

Recent extreme winter conditions in major wheat-producing states re-affirm the need for a 2018 farm bill and strong federal crop insurance program. According to Radiant Solutions, a data collection and analysis company based in Herndon, Virginia, “Solid snow cover in the northern Plains and Midwest gave wheat fields enough protection from the bitter cold conditions, but temperatures that dipped as low as 40 degrees below zero did plenty of damage this past week in the central and southern Plains and southern Midwest.”

“To the best of our ability, wheat growers do what we can to mitigate risks on our farms,” said Gordon Stoner, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers and Outlook, Montana farmer. “However, we are still at the mercy of Mother Nature and strong farm bill safety net programs, like crop insurance, can help enable us to farm another year if hit by a devastating weather disaster.”

Radiant Solutions also reported that as a result of the unusually cold temperatures and snowy conditions, “Damage occurred in about a quarter of the hard red wheat belt in the central Plains, with about 5 percent of the soft red wheat belt in the Midwest seeing impacts.” The company also predicts “additional winter kill in southern Indiana, southern Ohio and northern Kentucky.”

“As we continue negotiations on the 2018 farm bill, it is important for Congress to remember agriculture faces systemic risks,” continued Stoner. “There are many factors that are out of farmer’s control, especially weather. It’s vital that federal crop insurance remains widely available and affordable for all farmers across the country.”

NAWG continues to advocate for no cuts to the federal crop insurance program and is looking forward to working with Congress to pass a strong farm bill this year that provides effective support for wheat growers. NAWG has advocated for maintaining a producer choice in Title 1 programs, increasing the wheat reference price in the Price Loss Coverage program, doubling funding for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program, and other key priorities for improving the safety net.