Ranking Member Stabenow Applauds Proposal to Expand Federal Crop Insurance to Fruit and Vegetable Farmers

Stabenow Included Provisions in 2014 Farm Bill That Encourage Private Sector Insurers to Cover Specialty Crop and other Underserved Producers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for proposing new rules that expand risk management tools to specialty crop and underserved producers currently unable to find or afford insurance coverage. Today’s announcement builds on efforts in Stabenow’s 2014 Farm Bill that reforms USDA’s process for developing new crop insurance policies to ensure fruit and vegetable growers have a level playing field when compared to traditional commodity crops.   

“For too long the federal crop insurance program hasn’t fully included our nation’s fruit and vegetable growers,” said Stabenow. “That’s why we fought for reforms in the Farm Bill to put these producers on equal footing with traditional commodities.  No farmer should ever be forced to file for bankruptcy and lose the family farm because of bad weather or market conditions outside of their control. Moreover, we should be encouraging the production of fruits and vegetables with the same level of commitment that we support row crops and traditional commodities. Today’s action by the USDA is a big win for fruit and vegetable farmers, especially those in Michigan, and I urge USDA to move quickly to get these crop insurance products to our growers.”

For decades, American fruit and vegetable growers have been at a competitive disadvantage due to a lack of coverage by the federal crop insurance program. While coverage of fruits and vegetables has gradually increased, Stabenow introduced a series of reforms in the 2014 Farm Bill designed to focus USDA’s resources to ensure that all farmers are provided access to affordable, effective risk management tools.

Today’s proposal by USDA would implement Stabenow’s provisions by modernizing the Federal Crop Insurance Act. Once fully enacted, these rules would require the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) to increase the incentives for the private sector to research and develop new insurance products for specialty crops and underserved producers. In addition, the FCIC Board of Directors will be required to prioritize the approval of new policies that cover fruit and vegetable producers that currently do not have crop insurance coverage. Lastly, these proposed rules include funding for a pilot program for a new type of insurance that targets previously uninsured producers.