For the last several years, U.S. wheat growers have been some of the staunchest supporters of direct payments, which are issued by USDA every year to producers with qualified base acres, regardless of what they planted or if they planted. Given the uncertainty of prices and production, it was one part of the federal farm program “safety net” that producers, and perhaps more importantly, their lenders, could count on year in and year out. But a year ago, I started asking wheat industry leaders about future farm program options and what they would want to see for a safety net in the future–especially if push comes to shove and there is a need to choose between some of the current options like direct payments, counter-cyclical payments and crop insurance. What if you had to pick just one? The answer was almost unanimous: Crop insurance won hands down.
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