CRAMER: Ranchers Get Answers at RMA Info Session in Dickinson
DICKINSON, ND – Congressman Kevin Cramer hosted an informational presentation on Pasture, Rangeland and Forage (PRF) Insurance as well as a question and answer session with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) on Monday in Dickinson.
The event was scheduled after it was brought to Cramer’s attention that ranchers had concerns about the way precipitation was being calculated in western North Dakota as part of the PRF Insurance program, which serves as a safety net for below average rainfall. Specifically, the rain estimates produced under PRF Insurance are, in some cases, drastically different from the estimates in the USDA Drought Monitor. Ranchers had the chance to get answers to many of these questions directly from RMA officials.
“I appreciate RMA officials and Commissioner Goehring coming out to Dickinson to speak with producers from the surrounding area on the Pasture, Rangeland and Forage Insurance,” said Cramer. “The informative discussion brought light to this program, and I think it will help ranchers make better choices for their future. At the same time, we as legislators need to take a deeper look into the way the model evaluates precipitation across the region. The more transparent and understood the PRF program, and others, can be for our producers, the better off we’ll all be in making decisions during times of drought and other disasters.”
North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring commented on how inaccurate data reporting has been a problem for a number of years. “I’m working with the National Weather Service to close some of these loopholes, said Goehring. “You lose confidence in the system when it tells you that this grid is reporting at 139% or that grid is at 237%, and you’re thinking ‘we didn’t even get that back then.’”
Producers highlighted a number of concerns including the lack of rain sensors in western North Dakota, compared to the eastern side of the state. The question sparked a longer discussion about who does or does not get subsidies based on precipitation in a certain area. “The more I learn about this program, the more I believe that it’s not the right fit for North Dakota producers without some modifications,” said Cramer. “Like others, the PRF Insurance program uses a national model to try and predict a very local issues.”
RMA officials highlighted that the PRF Insurance program wasn’t created as a drought insurance program, but rather a risk management tool meant to hedge losses over a long period of time for producers. While Cramer agreed with their explanation of the product and how it’s meant to hedge risks over the long-term, he disagreed with its usefulness throughout the country. “While this product might work well east of the Mississippi, I’m not convinced it’s doing a good job in North Dakota. The west has different topography, larger farms, and more remote spaces – I don’t think PRF Insurance takes those and other unique qualities into account.”