Crop Insurance Critical During Pandemic Times
My family started out with a subsistence farm like many of our neighbors in this part of Maryland.
The dairy closed in the 1960s and we moved into row crops. Today we farm corn, soybeans and barley near Snow Hill.
Back when I was a kid, we were big farmers. Today, we are small farmers.
But it’s a good lifestyle. My family is here. My mom is still involved with the bookkeeping on the farm. I really enjoy being a farmer and I hope to stay in it for a long time.
We have been pretty lucky on our farm. The weather over the years has generally cooperated and we have a poultry processing operation nearby that buys our grain for feed.
Like a lot of growers, I was heading into this year with a positive outlook.
Corn and soybean prices, for the first time in a long time, were expected to improve with the resolution to the ongoing trade wars that have hit rural communities hard.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically interrupted our economy and our food supply chain.
Now more than ever, farmers are an essential workforce providing Americans with food, fiber and fuel. Food is a critical part of our collective safety and security.
Although rural America faces mounting uncertainty related to the pandemic, Mother Nature certainly won’t give anyone a pass this year. Farmers in Maryland and all across America need to maintain the tools that allow them to protect their farms and keep supply chains moving.
The best tool out there for mitigating the risks of weather and prices is the public-private partnership of crop insurance.
We probably have only collected on crop insurance once out of all the years I’ve been farming.
But it helped us weather a hard time and kept my farm in business for the next season.
That’s why I buy it every year. It helps me sleep at night.
Farming is an expensive and risky business. Farmers have to buy all of the inputs that go into growing a successful crop before they know what the final harvest prices will be and without knowing whether a big storm is going to ruin all of their hard work or whether a pandemic will create new challenges that we didn’t plan for this planting season.
Crop insurance is reliable, which explains why it has become so popular. Farmers bought 1.1 million crop insurance policies last year. They paid $3.75 billion in premiums and more than $10 billion in deductibles.
Crop insurance helps farmers stay in business for another season so they can continue growing the essential food, fiber and fuel that is critical to our nation’s safety and security. It has also kept the economies of small towns like mine going.
I think about the banks and equipment dealers, hardware stores and grocery stores in my town. If farmers weren’t spending money on Main Street, we’d have no town. Now, more than ever, keeping our rural economies alive and grocery stores stocked is critically important.
As our nation recovers from this pandemic, I urge Congress to maintain a strong system of crop insurance to make sure farmers are able to stay in business and American consumers have a safe and affordable food supply.
In order to fully understand where we are and where we will be in January 2021 as we inaugurate a new president, new senators, and new members of the House, we must separate the derogatory effects of the government closure of America from the derogatory effects of the COVID virus. If we blame everything on COVID, the future political solutions we impose on ourselves will not work out the way we want them to because we failed to identify the correct cause of our deep recession.
In America in 1908 Henry Ford rolled his first Model T off the production line. Between 1908 and 1927 Ford would produce 15,000,000 Model T’s. In 1918, there were 13,800 companies that made horse drawn carriages; by 1920 there were only 90. During this period the people that made buggy whips had their jobs eliminated and they went on strike. What were the poor people who made buggy whips to do? Henry Ford and his auto assembly line were disruptors. It took less than two decades to transition from horse drawn carriages and buggy whips to autos. The “invisible hand” of our open free enterprise economy created enough jobs to absorb the labor dislocations as the country transitioned to the automobile despite a World War occurring.
The story of change in free enterprise America since its inception has been what economists call “Creative Destruction.” The anxiety of labor displacement within a specific group has been dissipated over time by some new area of need opening and the result has always been that we are all better off.
In the first decades of the 21st Century new disruptors emerged that were Internet-based. All of which have left each and every one of us better off: 1) Google, 2) Amazon, 3) Facebook and 4) Apple. Each disruptor has displaced 10’s of thousands of jobs. Yet, as with the Model T, the disruptors have taken two decades to allow those dislocated to find new and often better jobs. Mother Nature has always provided something new to absorb our workers that were temporarily idled by a disruptor. This has been the pattern of wealth creation in our open free enterprise economy since our country began. In this year, 2020, that may have irreversibly changed, and this is why.
From 2015 through 2019 a number of young disrupters emerged and started to gain critical mass among them — 1. Teladoc, for online medical appointments, 2. Zoom, for business conferences, 3. Uber, lower priced transportation, 4. Carvana, contactless buying and selling of used cars, to name a few. Young disruptors have also emerged in artificial intelligence, robotically answering our calls, and “3-D” printing. These companies were disrupting labor at a pace our economy could absorb as had been the case since the Model T and in February 2020, on the eve of the COVID virus, America had a 3.5% unemployment rate.
Then came COVID and rather than being governed by science, our society became captive to fear. Rather than taking a scientific approach and saying those with co-morbidities or over 60 should stay in place, wear masks, practice distancing, we closed down our whole economic system for an annual death risk far less than 1%. There was no science behind stopping the schools and stopping everyone from working under an arbitrary government construct of “essential and non-essential” workers.
The forced government closedown will deliver a separate set of consequences that should be widely visible by the fourth quarter. The forced closedown has placed the new breed of disruptors on steroids. What would take Mother Nature 10 to 20 years has occurred in three to four months. The forced government closure was embraced by both political parties. All politicians in office bear varying degrees of culpability. However, the liberal leaders have relied more on fear to achieve expanded economic closures.
The acceleration of the labor disruptions caused by the government ordered stoppage has caused over 11% unemployment and dramatically increased business bankruptcies. The closedown or work stoppage has put over 40 million Americans out of work for at least some period.
The deaths and disabilities caused by COVID are dramatic and mostly impact 80-year-olds and those with co-morbidities, but COVID is not responsible for the staggering present-day unemployment and the huge overhang of bankruptcies that resulted from the government-forced work stoppage of all “non-essential” business activities in America. At this writing on July 13, 2020, it is clear that among people 50 years old or less the annual flu kills more people than COVD; 50 percent of all positive COVD cases are asymptomatic; and more people have died from drug overdose than have died from COVD aged 65 and less.
The government-sponsored stoppage accelerated the level of social displacement in the path of the new breed of disruptors and many of the changes in our consumer habits in record time may not be readily reversible. Our tastes and preferences have changed and will influence our consumption going forward.
Although disruptors change our world for the better the abrupt, forced stoppages of schools and businesses deemed non-essential by certain politicians has placed us in a labor hole and it is unlikely that Mother Nature will be able to provide new vocations for all the unemployed. Therefore, creating huge political problem engineered by many of the politicians themselves. Moreover, the forced economic stoppages will leave huge revenue shortfalls in local, county and state budgets that had no reserves, mostly under liberal politicians.
Begging the question how will mother nature absorb the army of unemployed left from the government-forced stoppages? Presently we are at the tale end of a massive sugar high from the governments’ $6 trillion of stimulation to counterbalance the damage from the work stoppage they imposed. The disruptors should do fine in the chaos. It’s the rest of us that should be worried.
Falls Church, Va.