U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, leaders of the U.S. Agriculture Crop Insurers Association and the directors of all U.S. grain associations agree that the single most critical part of the upcoming farm bill has to be crop insurance.

Farmers in the Southeast echo that sentiment, many noting that high prices have brought with them highest in history input costs, and risk associated with planting such a capital-intensive crop demands some sort of safety net.

And four major farm groups recently joined the chorus backing crop insurance as a must in any new legislation. To read that story, click here.

Major spring-planted crops in the Southeast will almost certainly be in the ground before any action is taken on the upcoming farm bill.

However, there is particular concern among wheat growers that some type of crop insurance be given at least tentative agreement in Congress prior to planting later this summer and fall.

Smaller acreage, less diversified growers, especially those new to full-time farming are particularly vulnerable to weather related disasters. Without crop insurance, some simply couldn’t ride out the economic storm, lacking the on-farm equity to leverage a new year of bank financing.

Speaking at a recent meeting of nearly 5,000 farmers attending the Commodity Classic, Vilsack said, “The first thing a new farm bill must include is a safety net for farmers. U.S. farmers, mostly in the Southwest, lost 55 million acres of farm production to weather related disasters last year.

“Without an insurance program to get them from one crop to the next, some of these growers would be out of business,” Vilsack adds,

“In our quest to provide food for future generations, in an ever increasingly over-populated world, we simply can’t afford to lose farmers to weather problems.

“Over the past three years the federal government guaranteed payment of over $30 billion in crop insurance claims.