Still, the insurance operations that made those payments made money, and even provided about a 10 percent positive return on tax dollars — that makes a strong case for a viable crop insurance program,” Vilsack says.

Crop insurance companies wrote more than $11.9 billion in federal multiple peril crop insurance premiums last year, covering nearly 265 million acres of farmland, protecting more than 80 percent of eligible crops, with total potential liability exceeding $113

billion.

On March 15, speaking to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Steve Rutledge said, “How crop insurance emerges from the 2012 farm bill process will hold major ramifications for this risk management program and for America’s

farmers and ranchers who have come to rely on it.”

Rutledge, who spoke on behalf of crop insurance companies, underscored the public/private partnership that is unique to crop insurance and how that relationship lowers risk for taxpayers.

Both Secretary Vilsack and Rutledge, who is chairman of Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company of Iowa, have urged both houses of Congress to avoid further budget cuts to the crop insurance program.

Since 2008, crop insurance programs in the U.S. have absorbed about $12 million in budget cuts. “This reduction is astounding when one considers that crop insurance represented only 8 percent of the farm bill spending and a meager one-tenth of one percent of overall government outlays,” Rutledge said.

 “I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the relief and gratitude on a farmer’s face when they realize that because of crop insurance, they will be back in the fields in the spring and life will go on uninterrupted,” he added.

“Today’s legislators need to quit pointing the finger of blame and the difficulty of our economic times and get things done. The legislature of 150 years ago passed legislation that provided an investment in the future of America, and our current legislators need to take a cue from their predecessors and get some things done in Washington,” Vilsack said.

“In my farming days, when a combine broke down, we didn’t sit around and argue about whose fault it was. We figured out a way to fix it and got the combine back in the field,” he added.

At least one member of Congress appears to get the message. North Dakota Senator John Hoeven told Secretary Vilsack at a recent meeting on Capitol Hill that crop insurance would indeed be his top priority when he discusses agriculture-related funding initiatives.

Hoeven is working with other senators to craft a cost-effective farm safety net, the base of which is a strong crop insurance program.

“Everybody throughout our state, all the producers, are telling us that crop insurance is absolutely their No. 1 priority,” Hoeven says.