Committee Reviews Implementation of Agricultural Risk Protection Act
Chairman Combest focuses attention on tools to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse
Washington, DC — Today, the House Committee on Agriculture, convened by Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX), heard from Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and representatives from the crop insurance industry regarding implementation of P.L. 106-224, the Agricultural Risk Protection Act.
"Most Americans take insurance for granted -- whether it be on their homes, cars, or businesses. But, this is not true for farmers," Combest said. "In fact, all private efforts to provide multiple peril crop insurance have failed due to the frequent and widespread nature of disasters. Indeed, without the Federal Crop Insurance Program, American farmers simply could not insure their crops."
Early in 1999, Members of the Agriculture Committee began working with farmers of all crops from every region of the country to strengthen the crop-loss side of the farm safety net. The result of this effort was the Agricultural Risk Protection Act (H.R. 2559), the most sweeping improvement to the Federal Crop Insurance Program in its 62-year history.
"When the Committee first considered this legislation we agreed that short-term changes in crop insurance would pave the way for a broad look at the program in the years ahead," said Ranking Minority Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX). "The bill makes important changes, the Administration is doing its part to implement it quickly, and we must all continue to dedicate ourselves to making the program efficient and effective."
During the development of H.R. 2559, farmers from all over the country expressed concern that the Federal Crop Insurance Program is being abused. In response, Congress armed the Department of Agriculture with more than a dozen new and effective authorities to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse. The focus of today's hearing was to review whether these authorities are being effectively implemented and administered to protect the substantial investment Congress and the American taxpayer have made in the Program.
"At best, if fraud, waste, and abuse are permitted to fuel premium inflation, our farmers stand to lose the benefit of lower insurance costs conferred on them by the legislation we have passed," Combest said. "And, at worst, if fraud, waste, and abuse are permitted to undermine public confidence, our farmers stand to lose a program they can scarcely do without."