Reps. Cammack, Soto Lead Bipartisan Letter to House Appropriations Committee Seeking Relief for Specialty Crop Farmers
Targeted News Service (Press Releases)
WASHINGTON, June 17 -- Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Florida, issued the following news release and letter on June 16, 2022:
Congresswoman Kat Cammack (R-FL-03) and Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL-09) led a bipartisan letter with members of the Florida Delegation to the House Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Agriculture, urging them to provide equitable relief with respect to crop insurance for specialty crop farmers.
Due to an unintended consequence of the 2011 cap on administrative and operative (A&O) expense reimbursements, specialty crop insurance funding has been cut dramatically. Historically, the contract between the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) and the crop insurance companies has prevented A&O costs associated with specialty crops' policies from rising when prices of products like corn wheat, soybeans, or cotton increase. However, the effects of this flawed funding design have detrimentally impacted crop insurance for specialty crops, yielding a nearly 40 percent cut nationwide, with Florida among the top five states to be hit hardest.
The letter asks that the House Appropriations Committee mitigate this inequity for specialty crops risk management by providing relief and including a provision to restore specialty crop A&O to the level to which it has been historically set.
"I'm pleased to join Rep. Soto in leading this letter with my colleagues," said Rep. Cammack. "With rising inflation, supply chain issues, and now the adverse effects of federal budget cuts, specialty crop farmers from Florida and around the country are suffering from the consequences of bad policy. If the appropriations committee does not address this unsustainable situation by restoring funding to the A&O in the FY2023 agriculture appropriations bill, serious damage will be done to the risk management infrastructure for specialty crops, and producers around the country will suffer."
The letter earned the support of the Crop Insurance Professionals Association (CIPA), Florida Farm Credit, the Florida Strawberry Association, and the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA).
"The Crop Insurance Professionals Association is grateful to the Members of the Florida Congressional Delegation who are standing up for specialty crops," said William Cole, CIPA Chairman. "Specialty crops make up the largest part of Florida agriculture, valued at about $4.9 billion per year out of $7.36 billion in total agricultural value in the Sunshine State. Specialty crops are critically important to Florida's economy and to the improved diets and health of all Americans. Unfortunately, due to a bureaucratic flaw, risk management infrastructure for specialty crop farmers is being deeply cut -- by nearly 40 percent in just two years. Unless corrected soon, this will adversely affect Florida's specialty crop producers. We greatly appreciate the leadership of Reps. Kat Cammack and Darren Soto who are leading the bipartisan effort to defend Florida's specialty crop farmers."
Original signees of the letter include Reps. Kat Cammack, Darren Soto, Al Lawson, Bill Posey, Byron Donalds, Carlos Gimenez, Frederica Wilson, Greg Steube, Gus Bilirakis, Maria Elvira Salazar, Michael Waltz, Neal Dunn, and Scott Franklin.
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Dear Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Harris,
We write to urge you to provide equitable relief with respect to crop insurance for specialty crop farmers in the fiscal year 2023 agriculture appropriations bill.
As you are aware, specialty crop insurance funding has been cut dramatically, due to an unintended impact of the 2011 cap on administrative and operative (A&O) expense reimbursement. This feature of the contract between the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) and the crop insurance companies was intended to ensure that, when the prices of crops like corn, wheat, soybeans, or cotton increase, A&O costs associated with these crops' policies do not also significantly rise.
This effort to manage A&O costs affects all crop insurance policies--including specialty crops that have not seen the same price increase as row crops. Yet, specialty crop insurance is subject to the same A&O caps, resulting in steep decreases to specialty crop insurance funding.
We have seen the effects of this flawed funding design play out through recent years. Since the 2020 crop year, crop insurance funding for specialty crops will experience a nearly 40 percent cut, with Florida among the top five states to be hit the hardest. The sharp rise in row crop prices due, in part, to the war in Ukraine is expected to result in the continued downward pressure on specialty crop funding. These deep cuts are being made to funding levels that have already been flat since 2015, despite rising inflation and other factors. This situation is unsustainable and needs to be addressed before serious damage is done to the risk management infrastructure for specialty crops.
We have an opportunity to mitigate this inequity for specialty crops risk management without amending the Federal Crop Insurance Act or reopening the contract between FCIC and the companies. We respectfully urge you to provide relief for delivery of specialty crop insurance policies and the producers they support by including a provision to restore specialty crop A&O to the level that preceded the run up in row crop prices in this year's agricultural appropriations bill.