Top economist predicts a tighter farm safety net

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Former USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins, Ph.D.,  predicts a smaller farm safety net in the future, but one that cements crop insurance.

"We will see a greater evolution in the reliance on crop insurance in 2013," Collins said.

Collins stated that one only needs to look at the past few years to recognize the important role crop insurance plays in helping farmers hit by Mother Nature.

“Crop insurance has prevented lots of farm stress that would have occurred and as a result, farmers are paying their bills,” Collins said.

Collins made his remarks during the Capitol Hill Ag Day forum, “Farm to Fork Politics: An Insider's Look at the Year Ahead.”

Other panelists included J.B. Penn, chief economist at Deere & Company and B. Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, National Restaurant Association.

During his remarks, Penn addressed supply and demand, noting that growing population, especially in urban areas, will continue to put pressure on agriculture. By 2050, more than 70 percent of the world population will live in urban areas, Penn predicted.

“On the supply side, global agriculture struggles to keep pace,” Penn said. “The 2013 outlook is very weather dependent.”

Penn also noted an increase in regional competition.

“Overall, we are seeing traditional exporters losing market shares and we have more competitors.”

Riehle shared some insights from the restaurant industry, predicting an increase in business in 2013.

“Americans now are more interested in food (and where it comes from) than at any other point,” Riehle said.

The well-attended forum was sponsored by Agri-Pulse Communications and moderated by its president Sara Wyant.

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