WASHINGTON, D.C., May 14, 2008—The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) applauds House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and the other members of the House of Representatives for passing the 2008 Farm Bill Extension Conference Report today. The Senate is expected to approve the Conference Report this evening or tomorrow.
The Farm Bill would provide for the continuation of agricultural programs through fiscal year 2012. Though the Big “I” expressed significant concerns about unprecedented cuts to the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) throughout the consideration of the 2008 Farm Bill, the association believes this final Conference Report is a carefully balanced compromise of policy priorities that has broad support among organizations representing the nation’s agriculture, conservation and nutrition interests. The Big “I” joined with 557 other organizations in sending a letter to all Members of Congress urging them to support the 2008 Farm Bill.
“The 2008 Farm Bill is certainly not perfect, but it is an essential piece of legislation for America’s farmers and our entire agricultural industry,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president of government affairs. “Independent agents who service our farmers are proud of the work that the Congress put into crafting this finely balanced compromise.”
The 2008 Farm Bill Conference Report contains a 2.3 point cut to the Administrative and Operating (A&O) reimbursement for the FCIP, a cut that represents more than $800 million lost to the program. While wanting to maintain the current funding, the Big “I” understands why Congress incorporated this cut in order to protect the integrity of the program in the future, and as part of the effort to get a final Farm Bill passed by both chambers.
Also present in the 2008 Farm Bill Conference Report are critical reforms to the program that would benefit both America’s farmers and the insurance agents that serve them. Chief among these reforms is a repeal of the legislation authorizing Premium Reduction Plans (PRP) and a tightening of anti-rebating language. Both PRPs and widespread rebating threaten the integrity of the program.
“The Big ‘I’ has been fighting against PRP and unfair rebating, and the discriminatory practices they encourage, for a number of years. Congress’ decision to include language repealing PRP and tightening anti-rebating statutes is a significant and welcome development for independent insurance agents and farmers alike,” says John Prible, Big “I” assistant vice president of federal government affairs. ”We applaud Congress for passing this legislation and we urge the President to sign the bill into law.”
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.