In forty years of following ag policy, I never have seen agriculture work together as quickly and effectively.
“In forty years of following ag policy, I never have seen agriculture work together as quickly – and effectively – as the crop insurance industry did in the fall of 2015,” said Informa Economics’ Jim Wiesemeyer.
The budget agreement on October 26, 2015 airdropped $3 billion in cuts to the private sector delivery system for crop insurance. Team Torrey, who for over a decade has provided both association management and legislative advocacy for the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau (CIRB), realized this was a critical moment. CIRB had spent years building a strong alliance of farmers and ranchers, lenders, input suppliers and conservation groups who work together to protect crop insurance. Within a 72-hour period, CIRB and its coalition partners effectively mobilized and engaged to reverse the $3 billion proposed cuts to the program.
In our work for CIRB, Team Torrey was the leader in coordinating the agriculture community’s response. Over the time-frame of 72 hours, CIRB was able to alert the coalition and mobilize each coalition member’s grassroots for a nationwide engagement. Team Torrey also played an essential role ensuring that the coalition’s response was organized to compliment the efforts of champions on the Hill. CIRB worked non-stop to ensure uniform messaging was available for its coalition partners, sending three Action Alerts for partners to share and utilize. This resulted in 1,200 individual contacts with House and Senate offices by email from CIRB members alone–this did not include additional outreach from other coalition partners. Furthermore, Team Torrey reached out individually to approximately 150 House offices asking them to oppose the budget deal and issued blast statements opposing the cuts to all House and Senate agriculture staff. We remained in contact with House and Senate Agriculture Committee staff to coordinate efforts and messaging. Additionally, we sent constant email updates to keep CIRB members and coalition partners updated on developments. We provided talking points, background information, and a communications plan for the coalition to ensure a unified message. We also coordinated three crop insurance industry joint media statements and responded to ongoing media requests.
On October 28, just one week after the announcement that the budget bill contained cuts to the crop insurance program, the House Agriculture Committee announced that an agreement had been reached with House Republican Leadership to avoid these cuts. On October 29, the Senate confirmed support for the House agreement. In the following weeks CIRB rallied and organized coalition members’ conversations with legislators to ensure a fix would be finalized. House Leadership politely contacted CIRB to request that our grassroots efforts ease up as the voice of the coalition to protect crop insurance had been heard. The effect of the crop insurance coalition engagement in DC was felt. (Please read below for press coverage) On December 1, the House unveiled the Highway Bill which included language to restore the cuts made to crop insurance in the budget agreement. This was passed by a vote of 359-65. On December 3, the Senate passed the Highway Bill conference report by a vote of 83-16. The President signed the bill into law on December 4, the last step that officially made crop insurance whole again.
Team Torrey is dedicated to helping CIRB find new ways to show leadership for the industry and will continue to defend and protect crop insurance.