Congressman reintroduces crop insurance legislation

Randy Neugebauer took a step recently toward fulfilling a campaign promise and trying to finish something he started in his first term as U.S. House of Representative for the Texas 19th District.

Since winning a special election to fill the seat formerly held by Larry Combest, almost two years ago, Neugebauer has championed a better crop insurance plan.

He first introduced his Risk Management Enhancement Act in June 2004, but could not get the bill considered before adjournment.

He reintroduced the bill and says the program would provide additional risk management tools and reduce the need for ad-hoc disaster payments. Additional protection against widespread drought and storm losses would be available for a relatively small increase in premium.

“I was encouraged by the positive response my crop insurance bill received from other members of Congress as well from West Texas and Big Country farmers,” Neugebauer said. “Because of this response and because drought and other disasters are not one time occurrences, it makes sense to push for enhanced crop insurance options for our farmers.” Neugebauer's proposal builds additional risk protection into crop insurance by allowing farmers to stack Group Risk Protection (GRP) coverage on top of an individual Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) policy. Farmers can choose to purchase GRP coverage up to the deductible portion of the individual policy, not to exceed 100 percent. Congress has passed more than $30 billion in emergency assistance packages in recent years to help producers who have suffered substantial crop loss.

This includes $2.8 billion in disaster assistance that Congress passed in November 2004. The enhanced insurance coverage in Neugebauer's legislation would help reduce the need for such packages in the future. ”We are seeing now more than ever the effects tight budgets can have on agriculture,” Neugebauer said. “By providing better crop insurance, we can make producers less dependent on a political process that can be very unpredictable.” The Texas Cotton Producers Association and American Cotton Producers have endorsed Neugebauer's legislation.

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