WASHINGTON, D.C., March 15, 2012 — The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) today participated in a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry titled, “Risk Management and Commodities in the 2012 Farm Bill.” Ruth Gerdes, the Auburn Agency Crop Insurance, Inc. president, from Auburn, Neb., testified on behalf of the Big “I” and other crop agent groups. In addition to Gerdes’ testimony on behalf of the crop agent community, the Big “I” also individually submitted a formal statement for the record.
Gerdes, who is a member of the Big “I” and the Crop Insurance Professionals Association (CIPA), testified in strong support of a robust farm safety net and spoke out against additional cuts to the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) in the upcoming Farm Bill negotiations.
In summary, her message to Congress was, “do no harm to the crop insurance program already in place.”
Also in her testimony, Gerdes highlighted the shift of the crop program from a public to a private delivery system and noted that the efficiency of program delivery by agents and the expansion of insured acres could never be replicated by a government agency. This statement of growth was punctuated with a statistic that in 2011 there were 18,000 crop agents servicing 1.15 million policies. The growth and overall success of the FCIP is due to motivated program participants, good lawmaking, quality products and a dedicated agent force.
In her statement Gerdes also spoke about personal devastation to her family farm, which drew her to be an active participant in the FCIP. She specifically referenced a farmer from Hamburg, Iowa, Mike Woltemath, who lost his entire farm in the 2011 floods in the Midwest. She pointed out that if it were not for the FCIP, this farmer and his family would have nothing left and no means to rebuild. Her testimony included photos of the destruction on Woltemath’s Iowa farm. Her statement also focused on the successes of the FCIP, the program’s growth and its effectiveness in insuring risk.
To read Gerdes’s statement click HERE
In its formal testimony to Congress, the Big “I” reiterated and expounded on many of the points Gerdes made and also reminded the committee of the enormous cuts made to the crop program via the 2008 Farm Bill and, most recently, the 2010 SRA.
The Big “I” testimony focused on the complexity of servicing the crop program, crop insurance as an indispensable financing tool and the need to revisit the disturbing commission caps instituted by the federal government in the SRA. The Big “I” suggests that the soft cap (80%) to agent commissions be removed and urges Congress to fully support this vital safety net.
To view the full Big “I” statement click HERE
. 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 approximately a quarter of a million 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, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.