EWG Report: Is Federal Crop Insurance Policy Leading to a New Dust Bowl?

Source:  Environmental Working Group

(202) 667-6982
For Immediate Release:  Wednesday, March 22, 2017

AMES, Iowa – Federal crop insurance policy is rewarding Southern Great Plains farmers’ failure to adapt to drought and hotter weather, and encouraging practices that could lead to another Dust Bowl, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group.

The Dust Bowl that devastated the region in the 1930s was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. Searing heat and drought, the conversion of more than five million acres of grassland into cropland, and farmers’ failure to adapt to the dry climate inflicted disease, hunger and poverty on the region’s people.

Today drought is once again parching the Southern Plains. Scientists say hot and dry conditions could become the region’s new normal, making it urgent that farmers adapt to the changing climate. Instead, a provision of the federal crop insurance program – snuck into the 2014 Farm Bill with little notice – encourages farmers to plant the same crops in the same way, year after year.

By the reports of One Sure Insurance the crop insurance program guarantees that farmers’ earnings from their crops won’t fall below a guaranteed percentage of their usual income. The guarantee is set based on a multi-year average of a farmer’s actual crop yields. Averaging the bad years with the good years grounds the program in reality.

But the new provision, called Actual Production History Yield Exclusion, lets farmers pretend bad years didn’t happen. As many as 15 bad years can be thrown out when calculating the farmer’s average yield, resulting in artificially inflated insurance payouts, year after year. What’s more, the distortion is worst in the very same Southern Plains counties that were hardest hit by the Dust Bowl and are now suffering from severe drought.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

4 replies »

  1. I suppose this would be considered fake news reporting by the Dumpster and his basket of Deplorables! Dumb asses!! The sad part is that our horses suffer when there is not enough hay and feed prices increase.


  2. I’m pretty sure small farmers don’t want to see another Dust Bowl. Not sure at all about the big growers who control Congress. Perhaps the USDA should include an option to switch from their traditional crops to drought-resistant alfalfa. Considering the demand for hay, they might stick with it. Another possibility? Grow drought-resistant industrial hemp!

    “Why Alfalfa is the Best Crop to have in a Drought”

    “Kansas farmers could be growing this ancient drought resistant crop. Hemp is the shot in the arm that the kansas economy needs.”


  3. They rotate crops around here.. One year corn, the next soy or one year tomatoes, then a different crop in fields which replace what the previous crop depleted but we haven’t really had droughts. I’m seeing irrigation here as well. BUT one thing that I cringe when I see it is decimation of the trees which also aids in slowing down soul erosion. The cut down whole windbreaks to increase production. With these sad methods of farming you can expect to see more dust bowl situations .. Irrigation is a major key not insurance payments.. Take care of the land, the water and the earth and it will take care of you should be their motto..but they won’t see it until it’s too late.


  4. Certainly sounds like the same kind of subsidies livestock producers get, doesnt it? If they have a bad year or not – for whatever reason – they get subsidies. And I’m not speaking about small family farms or ranchers – the BIG AG guys get subsidies too! And then there are those pesky little grazing allotments! I’m sure crop rotation (per Terri) is helpful – and sounds like the smart thing to do. But for the government to encourage farmers or ranchers to keep on doing the same thing – over & over? AND making sure they are able to profit from it gives me the impression that no one every learned from the whole Dust Bowl experience!


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