Paralleling similar legislation in the House, U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) recently sponsored the Assisting Family Farmers through Insurance Reform Measures (AFFIRM) Act to save U.S. taxpayers approximately $24.4 billion over the next decade by reforming crop insurance methods.
The bipartisan bill S. 2244 was introduced in Washington, D.C., in tandem with a companion measure brought up in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).
If enacted, the law would impose limitations or reductions in four discrete ways, including lowering the Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA) rate of return from 14.5 percent to 8.9 percent, saving taxpayers an estimated $3 billion; removing an obscure but damaging restriction packaged with the 2014 farm bill that prevents the USDA from saving money when renegotiating the SRA; erasing subsidies for the Harvest Price Option (HPO) program, saving $19 billion; and limiting crop insurance subsidies to $40,000 per person annually, yielding approximately $2.3 billion in tax savings.
“Taxpayers and farmers alike deserve a federal crop insurance program that realistically reflects our current fiscal situation, and – with over $24 billion in savings – that’s exactly what this bill delivers,” Flake said.
Flake and Shaheen previously introduced the Harvest Price Subsidy Prohibition Act, regarding the elimination of the HPO.
“The costs of this program are skyrocketing unnecessarily,” Shaheen said. “We can ensure protections for farmers without putting taxpayers on the hook for excessive subsidies to insurance companies and large agri-businesses that don’t need the help. We are proposing common-sense reforms that will save taxpayers billions of dollars, and Congress ought to act on this bipartisan proposal.”
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