When the levees broke and the floodwaters came rushing toward many Midwest towns, government officials asked me to make an enormous sacrifice.
They needed soil from my farmland to extend and build up a levee to hold back an unprecedented wall of water. If I said yes, it would save millions of dollars for businesses, homes and possibly lives in Hamburg, Iowa. But saying yes also meant centuries of fertile soil would be removed from my farm, essentially ruining everything my family had worked for and guaranteeing I’d have to start over.
Sacrificing my farm was an easy decision. It was the right thing to do. And after a long conversation with my crop insurance agent, I knew that I’d at least have a chance to pick up the pieces when the waters receded.
Stepping up is nothing new for agriculture. With a rising tide of debt caused by runaway spending flooding our country, agriculture offered up cuts to its policies to help get the country back on track.
All told, more than $15 billion in spending was sacrificed, and ironically, more than $12 billion of that came from the crop insurance system that is in place to guard against things like floods. Crop insurance, which is purchased by individual farmers with some backing from the government and is serviced by efficient private companies, has become our most important risk management tool.
But like the old saying goes: No good deed goes unpunished. Despite being one of the only industries to answer the budget bell for the country’s betterment, farmers are again in cutters’ sights…..
About the author: Michael Woltemath is a fourth-generation grower who has actively farmed for 16 years and owns a farm adjacent to the Hamburg levee in Iowa.