Subcommittee Reviews Effects of River Rises on Crop Insurance

Feb 28, 2006

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Chairman Jerry Moran today convened a field hearing in the state capitol to review the potential effects of planned Missouri River “spring rises” on crop insurance policies for producers along the river. The U.S Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for operating the River reservoir system for the purposes of flood control, navigation, hydropower, irrigation, recreation, water supply, water quality and fish and wildlife. The Corps recently released their 2006 operating plan which includes two “spring rises” in March and May. The two water releases are planned in order to specifically comply with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

“Crop insurance is an integral part of farming. Most farmers consider it as the centerpiece of their risk management planning and would not think of risking their livelihood and future without the coverage provided by crop insurance. The program is working for a vast majority of America’s farmers and it’s the role of this Subcommittee to make sure that the program continues to improve, expand and assure a secure food supply and a stable rural economy,” said Chairman Moran in his opening statement.

Some producers expressed concern that the increased water levels may lead to damages to agricultural land that would not be covered by crop insurance. Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator Eldon Gould noted that the Federal crop insurance program mandates coverage for disasters associated with natural events and does not cover damages resulting from man-made events.

“…RMA has been consulting extensively with the Corps since we learned of the planned water pulse events to determine, and where possible, minimize the risks to producers due to these releases,” Gould said. “…Based on the control of timing and magnitude, and the Corps’ analysis of the current conditions in the Missouri River system, neither RMA nor the Corps anticipates that these upcoming releases will cause damages to crops or cropland along the Missouri River system.”

The Subcommittee heard from three panels of witnesses. The full testimony of the witnesses is available on the Committee website.


Panel I

Mr. Eldon Gould, Administrator, Risk Management Agency, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Larry Cieslik, Deputy Director of Programs—Missouri River, and Chief, Water Management Division, Missouri River Basin, Northwestern Division, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha, Nebraska

Panel II

Mr. William Bryan, Deputy Chief Counsel, Missouri Attorney General's Office, Jefferson City, Missouri on behalf of Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon

Mr. Fred Ferrell, Director, Missouri Department of Agriculture, Jefferson City, Missouri

Panel III

Mr. Terry Hilgedick, President, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Jefferson City, Missouri

Mr. Tom Waters, Chairman, Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association, Orrick, Missouri on behalf of the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation

Mr. Randy Asbury, Executive Director, Coalition to Protect the Missouri River, Higbee, Missouri