Record-Breaking $17.3 Billion in Crop Losses Last Year; Significant Portion Potentially Avoidable

 Tuesday, September 3, 2013

 Natural Resources Defense Council

Extreme weather forced the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) to pay out a record-breaking $17.3 billion in crop losses last year, much of which could have been prevented using water-smart strategies, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Payments made to farmers during the 2012 growing season to cover losses from drought, heat and hot wind alone accounted for 80 percent of all farm losses, with many Upper Midwest and Great Plains states hit hardest. With extreme weather conditions such as drought expected to become more common, record-breaking insurance payouts will likely continue to increase. However, widespread adoption of crop-loss prevention methods that build soil health and improve water management on farms can limit these losses. From 2001 to 2010, crop losses averaged just $4.1 billion a year, making the 2012 record-breaking FCIP payouts even more staggering. “The Federal Crop Insurance Program has failed farmers and taxpayers by ignoring water challenges,” said Claire O’Connor, NRDC Agricultural Water Policy Analyst. “The program was designed to be a safety net, not a subsidy for increasingly risky practices and less sustainable food production. We need to empower farmers to invest in low risk, water-smart practices that are proven to reduce crop losses.”
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