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Pressure to Produce More Food Has Farmers Looking to Mitigate Risk

Crop insurers say risk management tools are needed now more than ever

Published on: Feb 19, 2013

Strong demand for U.S. commodities – driven primarily by the growing middle class in developing countries – will keep prices strong through the next decade, said Michael Dwyer, director of global policy analysis at USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service. 

Dwyer made his comments last week during an annual crop insurance conference.

Current commodity price and demand situations have been good for the rural economy as well as the federal budget, he explained.

"The prosperity that American producers are realizing today is not coming at the expense of the American taxpayer," he said, noting that farm policy spending is declining.

Dwyer's remarks were the first of two presentations discussing global agriculture outlook.  Former USDA chief economist Keith Collins later moderated a panel discussion on various uncertainties facing agriculture, including economic and environmental factors.

Crop insurers say risk management tools are needed now more than ever
Crop insurers say risk management tools are needed now more than ever

Collins said that increased demand for food in the developing world will increase pressure on U.S. farmers to boost productivity, which will make yield-enhancing technology and risk-mitigation tools like crop insurance even more important in the future.  

But keeping up with growing demand could be even more challenging given an unpredictable weather outlook, explained William Hohenstein, director of USDA's Climate Change Program Office.

"Agriculture has been and will continue to be significantly affected by changes in climate conditions," Hohenstein said, noting the USDA recently released a climate change effects and adaptation report. 

"There's a lot of potential for the crop insurance program to help make farmers more resilient to [climate] change by addressing risk," he continued.