Owning and operating a small independent farm is no small undertaking. When it comes to small “organic” farms the hurdles are even more daunting. Among those challenges is the difficulty of obtaining affordable crop insurance that protects farmers in the event of a disaster. The issues has gained the attention of politicians and policy makers, including Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley who plans to introduce an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill that will do away with an industry standard five percent surcharge on insurance policies for organic farms. According to Merkely’s office the amendment would also level the playing field for farmers by requiring that insurers pay loses out at market value rather than commodity values which can be as much 50 percent lower than the actual value for organic products, given the growing demand for pesticide and hormone free foods.
The issue of crop insurance for small farmers has been swirling for some weeks in Washington as part of the Farm Bill revision. The House identified it as one of the top three issues related to the bill and a recent report by the non-partisan Union of Concerned Scientist cited crop insurance policies as badly in need of revision.
“The insurance burden that is put on these types of farmers is totally out of balance,” said Jeffrey O’Hara, the reports aurthor, in an interview with the New York Times.