WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 13, 2007—The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) applauds Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and the other members of the Senate for defeating the Brown/Sununu amendment to cut the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP). The amendment failed today by a vote of 32-63 during consideration of the 2007 Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill, the House version of which passed the full House in July, would provide for the continuation of agricultural programs through fiscal year 2012. The Big “I” expressed significant concerns about the Brown/Sununu amendment and the proposal's impact on farmers and the crop insurance market. “The defeat of this amendment was a win for America’s farmers,” said Robert Rusbuldt, President & CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”). “Independent agents who service our farmers are proud that this risk management tool has protected the farmers of our nation. It was imperative that this amendment be defeated to continue a proven risk management tool for farmers.” The Amendment would have crippled the FCIP by reducing the Administrative and Operating (A&O) reimbursement rate, which is the rate paid by the government to private companies for administering the program, by as much as 38%. The Big ‘I’ is very grateful to Senators Roberts, Nelson, Chambliss, Conrad and others for their leadership in defeating this misguided amendment.
“The amendment would have jeopardized the success of the private delivery of the program by disincentivizing private sector companies and agents to be the sales force. This amendment would have likely put private sector employees out of work and resulted in the hiring of new federal employees to serve farmers,” says John Prible, assistant vice president of federal government affairs. ” It has been proven that private sector delivery is more efficient and results in better service to America’s farmers, and we’re grateful the Senate acted today to protect that private sector delivery.”
The base text of the Farm Bill already contains a two point cut to the Administrative and Operating (A&O) reimbursement, a cut that represents nearly $750 million lost to the program. The Big “I” agreed to this cut during Committee consideration in order to protect the integrity of the program in the future and to move the Farm Bill forward in the legislative process. The Brown/Sununu amendment, however, would have further cut the program by $1.6 billion.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.