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Letter: Rick Becker’s comment about the North Dakota Farm Bureau was out of context

This policy does not say we believe that crop insurance should “go to the states or preferably the private market.” It is about giving farmers the ability to choose between subsidized and non-subsidized insurance.

Letter to the editor FSA
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Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said “farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

As a farmer and an active North Dakota Farm Bureau member who has worked directly with their policy, I took great interest in Joel Heitkamp’s recent radio interview with state Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Becker. In the interview, Becker states his opposition to federally subsidized crop insurance, that he feels it should go to the states or preferably the private market, and that his position is the same as the NDFB.

I don’t believe that Rep. Becker represented the NDFB policy correctly in the interview. The NDFB policy states: “We support a private crop insurance option, independent of the federal government.” 

This policy does not say we believe that crop insurance should “go to the states or preferably the private market.” It is about giving farmers the ability to choose between subsidized and non-subsidized insurance. Hence the word, “option” in the policy.

I was a delegate to the NDFB state annual meeting when this policy was originally placed in our policy book. I voted in favor of it, because at the time, our farm was considering a private crop insurance product.

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I am frustrated that Rep. Becker took our NDFB policy out of context. When I reached out to NDFB President Daryl Lies, he told me NDFB has not currently endorsed any candidates for the 2022 election, but that he and Rep. Becker had visited about NDFB’s policy; after listening to the interview, he said that Rep. Becker did not interpret our policy correctly. President Lies did say that he would have a conversation with Rep. Becker to make sure that he understands our policy. I think NDFB should be upfront and clear about its position on private and federal crop insurance to avoid confusion in the future.

I support private crop insurance options that provide meaningful, affordable protection. However, current private options are unrealistic when disaster strikes. While just “getting rid of subsidized crop insurance” may sound nice to a plastic surgeon, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

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