WASHINGTON (June 5, 2013) — The R Street Institute today lauded introduction of H.R. 2260, the Crop Insurance Accountability Act of 2013, which would require farmers who receive crop insurance subsidies to meet certain conservation compliance standards.

Sponsored by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry, R.-Neb., and Mike Thompson, D.-Calif., the bill would amend the Food Security Act of 1985 to provide valuable taxpayer protections, while also encouraging better environmental stewardship.

“Conservation compliance is an essential measure for protecting the taxpayer,” said R Street Senior Fellow Lori Sanders. “When providing assistance, we need to make sure those dollars are steered toward responsible, prudent uses, not toward subsidizing risky behavior.

“It’s important to remember that after the 2012 drought, the taxpayer covered a large portion of the insured losses,” Sanders added. “Under both the House and Senate Farm Bills, the taxpayer is still liable for losses above certain thresholds, so it’s crucial to limit support to less risky activities. Farmers can cultivate any part of their land they choose, but the taxpayer shouldn’t have to subsidize environmental destruction.”

The bill grants farmers new to the program two to five years to come into compliance, depending on the type of land they farm. It also provides assistance for farmers attempting to comply by prioritizing existing Commodity Credit Corporation funds. A similar proposal exists in the Senate Farm Bill currently being debated, and has been supported by widely by both agriculture and environmental groups.

“As the Senate and House wind down the direct payments program, it’s encouraging to see one of the sensible safeguards that existed in that program transported over to crop insurance,” Sanders said.  “Now is the time to refine crop insurance supports to put the program on a sustainable path, and this is a step in that direction.”