According to Brunkow, crop insurance is keeping some farmers in business this year, helping them weather through one of the worst drought periods since the Dust Bowl. The prospect of that safety net being in place for the next growing season rests at the doorstep of Congress.
“We each need to contact our members of Congress and let them know how important this is,” Brunkow said. “We need to let them know we rely on and need crop insurance. And it is not just us; it’s everyone up and down the Main Streets of our rural communities. Our rural communities rely on us. We are the foundation, the building block of the rural economy. When we have a good year, Main Street has a good year.”
Meanwhile, about 150 miles north and east of Brunkow, in Atchison County, Mo., Blake Hurst has his combines lined up and ready to start the harvest. Like Brunkow, he is living on the edge of drought. Due to drier conditions during key growing periods, Hurst believes he is looking at a corn crop that is two-thirds to three-fourths of optimal and a soybean crop that is on the lower side of that range.
Hurst, who is president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, considers this a drought year, just not quite as severe as the one he and other farmers faced in 2012. However, it is the first time he has faced two consecutive drought years in his 35 years of farming.
“Crop insurance kept everything together last year,” Hurst said. “Crop insurance was the difference for me between a large loss and a small profit. Crop insurance is extremely important.”
Not knowing whether he will have that key risk management tool heading into next year is more than a little disconcerting for the Missouri farmer.
“It’s the uncertainty of it,” Hurst said. “I can’t really plan on what the crop insurance program might be next year. I don’t really know how long it will last. I don’t know what will be required of me as far as qualifying for crop insurance and what will be required from me as far as premiums.
“We already have enough uncertainty in farming from weather, bad prices, which currently means 45 percent lower prices for corn than they were last year. So, I already have uncertainty without uncertainty caused by the political situation as well.”
Hurst explained that farmers are constantly living under time constraints. If they are not able to harvest all their crops before the snow starts to fly in the Midwest, they face the prospect of huge yield losses, which drastically impacts the bottom line.