“The Secretary’s Column” by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is a weekly feature of the USDA blog. Learn more at http://blogs.usda.gov/ As a warm winter drew to a close with the warmest March on record, many farmers around the country were already in the fields and others are itching to get crops in the ground. Each planting season begins with such promise. This one is no different.

But agriculture is unpredictable. And in the months ahead, some of our nation’s producers will contend with droughts, floods, tornados, storms and other natural disasters before they can harvest their crops and bring them to market.

These are good times for American agriculture. Last year we set new records for farm income and agricultural exports. Farmers and ranchers are carrying less debt, and farm household income is rising.

Even in these good times, our farmers, ranchers and growers need a strong safety net. That begins with a crop insurance program that protects 264 million acres on about 500,000 farms.

Over the past three years, about two-thirds of producers enrolled in crop insurance have used it at one point or another. USDA crop insurance has paid out more than $20 billion in indemnities to more than 340,000 farmers who lost crops due to natural disasters.


In the same three-year period, USDA’s disaster assistance programs helped more than 250,000 farmers and ranchers suffering from severe drought and other challenges – providing payments worth more than $3.4 billion. PD

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