Warnock, Brown Lead Effort to Expand Crop Insurance for Small Farmers

Senators Reverend Warnock, Brown introduced the Whole Farm Revenue Protection Program Improvement Act of 2023, legislation to ensure small and mid-sized farms are able to access crop insurance

Senator Reverend Warnock is laser-focused on reforming crop insurance programs to benefit small and mid-sized Georgia farmers in this year’s Farm Bill

Senator Reverend Warnock: “As our climate continues to become more extreme, ensuring farms of all sizes have access to crop insurance is imperative to Georgia’s economy”

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Whole Farm Revenue Protection Program Improvement Act of 2023, legislation to ensure small and mid-sized farms are able to access crop insurance. Right now, only a few small to mid-sized, beginning, specialty crop, and diversified producers are able to enroll in the federal crop insurance program. This leaves the next generation of farmers, and those who feed their local communities, without an effective or adequate safety net to protect against the many risks of farming, including volatile markets, worsening floods, droughts, and frosts. The legislation is cosponsored by Peter Welch (D-VT), John Fetterman (D-PA), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Cory Booker (D-NJ)

As our climate continues to become more extreme, ensuring farms of all sizes have access to crop insurance is imperative to Georgia’s economy,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “This legislation is an important piece of my broader efforts to protect and strengthen crop insurance access for all Georgia farmers. I look forward to working side by side with Senator Brown to secure this legislation in this year’s Farm Bill.”

“Small and mid-size family farms are crucial to our rural communities and our state’s economy” said Senator Brown.“Too often, these small family farmers don’t have the same tools and resources available to big agriculture, like crop insurance, and they can’t compete. By ensuring every farmer can access crop insurance, we can make sure small Ohio farms can weather the risks of farming and compete with big ag companies.”

The Whole Farm Revenue Protection Program Improvement Act will direct the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) to take specific, targeted actions that will streamline access to Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) and close the coverage gap for our country’s small to mid-sized, beginning, specialty crop, and diversified producers. WFRP is a crop-neutral revenue insurance product designed to protect a farmer’s entire operation, including livestock, not just one crop. WFRP is intended to provide diversified and diversifying farms that might not have access to separate crop or revenue insurance policies for each crop they grow an option to insure all their crops and livestock under one policy.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Authorize the FCIC to carry out research and development to increase crop insurance participation by farmers marketing to local and regional markets.
  • Clarify that producers are permitted to enroll in a WFRP plan in addition to other insurance plans.
  • Authorize the FCIC to consider expanding the diversification premium discount to farmers that utilize a resource-conserving crop rotation.
  • Direct the FCIC to implement several targeted modifications to WFRP design and delivery to improve effectiveness for specialty crops and diversified farms:
  • Reduce paperwork burdens by clarifying that Schedule F tax forms are sufficient to establish historic revenue and that agents only may request additional paperwork if tax records are incomplete.
  • Prohibit the adjustment of price and production expectations at the time of submission of a loss claim.
  • Apply the streamlined application process introduced in the Micro Farm pilot to producers with at least $1 million in gross revenue, to include all small and mid-sized farms as defined by USDA.
  • Raise the annual 35% limit to historic gross revenue expansion to the lower of 100% or $500,000, to allow beginning and scaling farmers to be insured at a level that keeps pace with rapid operational growth. 
  • Expand the diversification premium discount to apply to producers with at least 10 commodities, encouraging more diverse farmers to enroll in the program.
  • Moderate the impact of disaster years by including Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program payouts as historic gross revenue or establishing a floor to how much historic gross revenue may fall annually. 
  • Compensate crop insurance agents appropriately for Whole-Farm Revenue Protection sales in a manner determined by the Secretary, overcoming a key barrier for agents who are reluctant or refuse to sell WFRP policies.
  • Provide additional educational and training opportunities regarding Whole-Farm Revenue Protection to insurance companies and agents.

Georgia Organics, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, Regenerate America, Farm Action, Farm Aid, Kiss the Ground, Environmental Working Group, Land Steward Project, Marbleseed, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, Coastal Enterprises, Inc and Community Farm Alliance have endorsed the legislation.

Senator Warnock is a champion for protecting and increasing the safety net for Georgia producers. In July, the Senator introduced the bipartisan Protecting America’s Orchardists and Nursery Tree Growers Act, which would reform the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), a critical farm safety net program. The legislation would expand eligibility for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) by lowering the mortality threshold and allowing farmers to use TAP funding to replant alternative breeds of trees or bushes. Last summer, Senator Warnock visited Dickey Farm’s, which harvests peaches and other specialty crops, where he heard directly from farmers about the challenges they face to their bottom lines because of increasingly severe weather.

The text of the bill is available HERE.