The Bipartisan Budget Agreement includes cuts to crop insurance, but leaders agreed to take those cuts out in the omnibus spending bill to be voted on yet this year after agricultural groups as well as top agriculture committee members said they would vote against the budget deal if it were not removed. The House approved the budget deal by a vote of 266-167.
The news first broke Tuesday when a draft agreement would have cut the target rate of return for crop insurance companies from 14% to 8.9% which was estimated to provide $3 billion in budgetary savings. Previously the Administration had proposed only a cut to 12%, which had also been opposed by agricultural groups.
The top leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees all were united in their opposition of the budget deal, emphasizing that the proposed cuts to crop insurance in the budget agreement would undermine a critical risk management tool for American agriculture producers and consumers. They had also said they had not been advised prior to the deal.
Their objections were heard Wednesday. House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway (R., Texas) thanked his colleagues for making it clear over the last 24 hours that the attempt to gut crop insurance was not acceptable.
“I take our leadership at their word when they committed to me and many of my colleagues that we will eliminate these harmful provisions in the not-so-distant future, which is why I will vote in support of the budget agreement,” Conaway said ahead of the vote on the House floor Wednesday afternoon. “While not the easiest path forward, this is a win for rural America and should be viewed as such.”
Conaway said farmers and ranchers had already done their part in reigning in the nation’s debt in the 2014 farm bill with an estimated $23 billion in savings.
“Leadership has heeded our concerns by agreeing to completely reverse this disastrous provision in the upcoming omnibus,” Conaway said. “Crop insurance is working as intended, and private industry deserves to be lauded, not thrown under the bus.”
Ranking member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) said the assurances that the cuts will be removed and the farm bill will not be raided will allow him to support the budget agreement.