Influencers Delve into Current Status of Farm Bill at Annual Crop Insurance Workshop

September 27, 2018

On Thursday, Sept. 13, the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC) hosted the 15th annual Crop Insurance Workshop in Bowie, Maryland, sponsored by the Targeted States Grant Program.

A variety of speakers attended this year’s workshop, including Alex Sereno, director of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency in Raleigh, North Carolina, Catherine Boudreau, a food and agriculture reporter with Politico Pro, and more.

Throughout the day, presenters discussed new crop insurance products to Maryland, updated information on the 2018 Farm Bill, and also the USDA’s Farm Bill principles and crop insurance priorities.

“This year’s conference touched on a number of issues that have been in the forefront of people involved with crop insurance,” Associate Professor with AREC Howard D. Leathers said about the event. “One thing that was unique about this year was Norman B. Epstein’s presentation on the impact of farm financial stress on the personal and family lives of farmers.”

Dr. Epstein is a professor within the School of Public Health here at the University of Maryland and was a key speaker at this year’s event, as he discussed a big challenge with crop insurance that most people do not talk about. His speech outlined challenges and stressors for farm families, symptoms of depression to look out for and models for responding to a potential crisis.

Chief of Staff for the Risk Management Agency of the USDA, Keith Gray, also attended the event and gave an in-depth analysis of the current Administration’s plans for the Farm Bill, as well as the steps mentioned above. His presence was rare and helpful, as it allowed people within the Maryland crop insurance industry to have face-to-face time with an influential policymaker, according to Extension Legal Specialist Paul Goeringer.

Another essential challenge with crop insurance today is figuring out how potential changes to the Farm Bill will work for Maryland, not just the midwest states. Alex Sereno’s presentation, which was given via a video screening due to Hurricane Florence, highlighted necessary steps for Maryland to take in order to grow the crop insurance program, including crop expansion, new program development, and program alterations.

Additional news coverage of the event is available here.