Washington, D.C. (March 14, 2012)—Hope Hills, a blueberry grower from Bangor, Mich., today told the Senate Agriculture Committee that crop insurance plays a vital role as part of a comprehensive risk management strategy on the 213-acre farm that she and her husband, Mike, operate.
Hills testified before the Committee on behalf of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC). She and her husband are also a member-owner of MBG Marketing—The Blueberry People, an NCFC member co-op based in Grand Junction, Mich.
“Being a grower is full of risk and without crop insurance, it becomes a gamble, a roll of the dice. Our operation, our livelihoods are too much to gamble on,” Hills testified. “Having crop insurance brings stability to an otherwise volatile business, and allows producers to continue farming in the event of a disaster. Even though crop insurance is our fourth largest annual expense, we continue to purchase it—that’s how important it is.”
Hills also described how what works on her operation—and others that grow perennial specialty crops that grow on trees, vines and bushes—may not necessarily work for specialty crop producers growing annual or semi-annual crops. What matters, she said, is that specialty crop producers have the ability to access crop insurance if they so choose.
In concluding her remarks, she also raised two issues that, while not related to crop insurance, are of vital importance to many specialty crop producers and their co-ops.
“First, agriculture needs access to a legal, stable workforce. None of the issues that I’ve discussed in my testimony matter if there aren’t people to harvest, pack and process crops,” Hills said. “Second, given the critical nature of expanding international markets and exports, farm bill programs like the Market Access Program are very important.”
Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn composed of nearly 3,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country. NCFC members also include 26 state and regional councils of cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets.
America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity. They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.