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Farm futures rely on strong crop insurance

In parts of Agweek country, conditions have been wet. So wet, in fact, that it's hard to get a crop in the ground.

In other parts of Agweek country, conditions have been dry. So dry, in fact, that farmers are staring at the fields, hoping something green starts to come up.

Agriculture holds no guarantees. Whether it's the weather or the prices, farmers and ranchers often are operating at the mercy of something they can't control.

Consumers have a stake, too: a safe, stable and affordable food supply.

That's what makes federal crop insurance so important.

The Trump Administration has called for big changes to the federal crop insurance program in its first budget proposal. The proposal would put a $40,000 cap on crop insurance premium subsidies, would eliminate the harvest price option from the crop insurance program and limit eligibility for crop insurance and commodity support programs to farmers making less than $500,000 in adjusted gross income.

Now, these changes would require Congressional action rather than just the stroke of a president's pen to enact. And they aren't likely to find much support in either the House or the Senate, as even some of President Donald Trump's most ardent supporters have come out against the proposals.

For that matter, even Michael Young, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Budget and Program Analysis, could not give a good reason for the proposed cuts during a call with reporters and made clear that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue hadn't been in place long enough to help craft them.

We urge members of Congress, who are starting the process of planning and writing a new farm bill, to keep the interests of farmers and ranchers in mind as they carry out their work.

Yes, anything can be improved. And yes, maybe some cuts or refinement could be made. And we recognize that even some in agriculture have concerns about federal crop insurance.

But making drastic cuts and large-scale changes to the way our farm safety net operates would be ill advised, particularly now in a time of low prices

As lenders ponder whether to continue lending to farmers due to banking regulations, any weakening of the crop insurance program will give them another excuse to say no.

Our nation relies on a domestic food supply. It's a national security matter and helps with our balance of trade. If we don't have farmers, we don't have food. And if we don't have food, we don't have much of anything.

This budget proposal appears to be a slap in the face to the places that delivered the presidency to Trump. But, someone who's lived his life in the big city likely has no understanding of the way of life out here and how difficult it can be to overcome even one bad year. That's why it's so important to make sure our Congressional representatives and our farm groups are speaking up about this issue. Make your voices heard.

We need a strong safety net to protect our nation's farms.

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