Crop Insurance, Immigration Debate Critical for Produce Industry

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Robert Guenther

Crop insurance and the current immigration debate continue to be hot topics in the fruit and vegetable industry. Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for the United Fresh Produce Association, recently discussed these issues with AgNet Media Founder and President Gary Cooper. They spoke during the recent Crop Insurance Industry Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“There’s diverse opinions on crop insurance, but we want to make sure that there’s no significant impact on the availability of crop insurance,” Guenther said.

Guenther believes an area where crop insurance could be enhanced is food safety. He would like to see crop insurance become available in case of food safety losses. “When you have an outbreak or a quarantine of a commodity, it impacts the price. It impacts the availability. It impacts a lot beyond the quarantine or food safety outbreak,” he explained. The expansion of crop insurance coverage will have to come from the upcoming farm bill.

“What a crop insurance policy looks like for a tomato grower in Florida looks totally different for a tomato grower in California,” said Guenther. “That’s why our industry is so unique,” he said.

Guenther understands the difficulties companies face when creating a viable policy for the produce industry. “The time that it takes for companies to develop these policies is costly, and the ROI (return on investment) is a tough environment for both the grower and the insurance company,” he said.

The current immigration debate is a prominent issue in the produce industry as well. Guenther said he believes the key challenge with the immigration debate is figuring out where the industry fits in the debate. “Do we fit into that discussion in terms of creating more opportunity? Or in terms of creating a better guest worker program, but also bringing our workers into legal status?” he asked.

The immigration debate is always top of mind for the produce industry, and Guenther is trying to get word from Congress regarding where the industry fits in the debate. He encourages growers and industry professionals to become engaged and involved in the legislative process. “(Involvement) is critical for every issue,” he concluded.

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