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Rounds and Farm Bureau: Insuring People Bad! Insuring Crops Good!

Senator Mike Rounds and the South Dakota Farm Bureau don’t think government should help Americans get health insurance:

South Dakota Farm Bureau President Scott VanderWal, in an interview with the Capital Journal a short time after Rounds fielded questions on [the Affordable Care Act] from the audience, said it’s not surprising that Farm Bureau members are concerned about the federal government’s Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

“It’s a family organization so we’re not limited to just strictly ag policy, and that’s the way we’ve looked at it over the years,” VanderWal said, adding that this is an issue that clearly has repercussions for Farm Bureau families. “We believe that having a government-controlled system like that is not in our best interests” [Lance Nixon, “SD Farm Bureau Wrestles with Policy on Ag Issues—Plus Obamacare,” Pierre Capital Journal, 2015.11.22].

But Rounds and Farm Bureau insist that federal subsidies for businesses growing crops are vital to national security:

Mike Rounds
M is for Money, Money, Money….

Rounds said crop insurance is a good deal for the public because farmers pay 40 percent of the premium cost for insuring themselves against disaster under the taxpayer-subsidized program….

VanderWal agreed with Rounds that it’s good that “farmers have some skin in the game” in crop insurance. “We pay part of the premium, and the delivery system to make that happen is very important. It’s a private industry, which is a lot better than having government control.”

VanderWal said… “It’s a national security issue when you look at our ability to feed ourselves. If we allow our agricultural system to become in economic peril, we end up importing our food to a greater extent. That cuts down on our ability to take care of ourselves” [Nixon, 2015.11.22].

Crop insurance queen Rep. Kristi Noem was too busy discussing her recipe for national security on KDLT to comment. But what was I just saying about the difference between Sanders/FDR socialism for all and Mike Rounds/SDGOP socialism for the rich?


  1. Paul Seamans 2015-11-24 09:22

    Federal Crop Insurance pays 60% to 70% of the farmers premium. Plus they pay approximately a 15% premium to the insurance companies for selling the policy. Part of the talk in congress is to reduce this 15% paid to the insurance companies.

    Farm Bureau is probably one of the biggest beneficiaries of Federal Crop Insurance because of their insurance subsidiary arm. If you buy insurance from Farm Bureau then you are automatically considered a member of Farm Bureau. This is how they can claim such a high membership.

  2. jerry 2015-11-24 09:28

    Rounds is the de facto governor here. What the capo says still goes that is why his syndicate still kicks the working poor to the curb with the denial of Medicaid Expansion. If you think all of this sucks, wait until the TPP comes into being.

  3. Roger Elgersma 2015-11-24 09:42

    Kristi says that we have federal crop insurance because the farmers want it. No such luck for the poor with health care. Obama care does not pay anywhere near sixty percent for both rich and poor. They like insurance because the government gives no regulations on what to spend the money on. Would they ever think of helping the poor with no regulations. They now want to cut food stamps to make the poor responsible. I know an over eighty person who went from ninety dollars a month food stamps to forty when this new idea from the republicans decided that this would make her more responsible. That was this year. They want controls over money to the poor and no controls over money to the rich. Spending of tax payer money should be regulated whether it is to the rich or poor. When you do not watch where the money goes you get Bolen’s and Westerhuis’s wasting money.

  4. Rorschach 2015-11-24 09:50

    If you read the linked Capital Journal article, our congressional delegation is fighting to prevent the government from cutting $3 billion that goes directly to insurance companies’ profit margins. They acknowledged that the cut won’t affect anyone’s ability to get crop insurance – just the profit margins of insurance companies.

    Paul Seamans detailed the self-interest of Farm Bureau in getting those extra taxpayer dollars into their for profit insurance wing. Farm Bureau doesn’t just make you a member if you buy their insurance. They make you pay a $50 annual membership fee that’s required if you have their insurance. That’s ok for the first couple of years when they honor the low initial rates they hooked you with. Not so great when they jack up those rates in subsequent years. My Farm Bureau membership is soon to be dropped.

    It should also be noted that Rounds owns insurance agencies and that Noem’s husband sells crop insurance. They are essentially using their positions to look out for #1.

  5. Paul Seamans 2015-11-24 09:57

    Rorschach, thanks for clarifying that. Rounds and Noem have no shame, scruples either.

  6. rwb 2015-11-24 10:16

    It’s hilarious that they claim Farm Bureau is an ag organization. Nothing moves through that organization without first getting the blessing of the insurance and mutual fund guys. Nothing.

  7. Jim 2015-11-24 10:46

    A pheasant recipe with cream of mushroom soup and bacon. How original. I wonder if she learned that in Farm Wife 101 at SDSU before she dropped out.

  8. mike from iowa 2015-11-24 12:09

    Wingnuts and Farm Burro agree that federal monies should go mainly to those that need it least. There aren’t enough billionaires that need help with insurance for wingnuts to give two whoops in hell about.

    But then,Rafael Cruz wifey’s cadillac insurance policy cost around 40 grand and was totally deductible from their taxes. I’d like to have 40 grand in one year to live on,I just don’t think congress loves me enough to siphon 40 grand my way.

  9. 96Tears 2015-11-24 12:09

    National Farmers Union was founded in Texas in 1902 in the political wave of the nation’s populist movement, and a year later developed its marketing cooperative. It has a proud history of championing the emergence and survival of family-based agriculture through its evolution today. It’s stood strongly on the right side of middle class American issues from its earliest days, and has accomplished much good for American society. NFU remains one of America’s strongest advocates for the cooperative movement, something the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has historically hated, condemned as communism/socialism and sought to undermine by any means at hand.

    The American Farm Bureau, on the other hand, was formally founded nearly 20 years later as a tool for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because the Chamber was losing too much ground in its efforts to champion the dominance of 1 percenters against the American middle class and our economy. Farm Bureau remains a puppet for anti-family agriculture industrial forces and the 1 percent richest Americans. It has always been this way and will remain so as long as Farm Bureau exists. What America gets from the Farm Bureau is the same hogwash we get from the Heritage Foundation and the myriad of other right-wing astroturf organizations working 24/7/365 to polarize the United States and diminish the political standing of regular Americans.

    As Paul Seamans indicates here, one of the most outrageous frauds of Farm Bureau is to count its insurance customers in rural and urban America in its membership counts. This is a glaring misrepresentation and should be enough for any rational person to disregard anything Farm Bureau has to say, but, alas, too many people buy into the gimmick.

    So when S.D. Farm Bureau President Scott VanderWal speaks, as he does here, it means there are dollars in it for someone. That someone is very rarely a family farmer.

  10. Porter Lansing 2015-11-24 13:02

    Two things are so vital to USA that the gov’t insures them. Crops and floods. Affordable health care insurance trumps both with it’s necessity to all citizens.
    Farm Bureau is funded by the Koch Bros. and is NOT a champion of anything American.

  11. happy camper 2015-11-24 13:03

    The ACA SHOULD be good for farm families (and the self-employed). Prior to the law it was common for a farming wife to be employed elsewhere with a group policy so the farmer and family could be added. But lose that group policy, be in poor health with no coverage and your farm would be at risk. As I’ve been whining however the cost of individual policies in our state is too damn high.

  12. jerry 2015-11-24 13:30

    The ACA provisions are good, what is causing the high premiums is the lack of the risk corridor that was to be utilized for high claims. What makes more sense is to have universal coverage, Medicare for all. Look at your business and tell me that you can absorb the cost of insurance year after year with the increases that you are clueless about until you get the flippin letter that tells you to set down and read. How can you present a budget with such a huge unknown, and for what? What happens if you do get that cancer or you do get that insidious illness that drains you and your ability to work. Soon you have spent everything down and you are broke. You cannot access Medicaid because the head crook of this state, denies it, so you are on the street. Diabetes will put you there, hiv will put you there, strokes will put you there. The list goes on and on, and we still fail to see the advantage of Medicare for all…unless you are 65 or over, then you get it, until then, most people think that social programs are so unimportant to them.

  13. Porter Lansing 2015-11-24 14:59

    Hear, hear Jerry.
    PS … Medicare for All (single payer) is on the CO ballot, next cycle.
    Obamacare got millions insured, now it’s time to address the monthly cost of coverage. Single payer is projected to save billions every year for Colorado citizens.
    And, for that tired argument that it will put insurance companies out of business. If they haven’t seen the writing on the wall by now and haven’t diversified (the way tobacco companies have) then the hundreds of millions they’re paying their executives every year is truly a waste.

  14. leslie 2015-11-24 16:11

    pretty good foto of our dear leader smirking with iowa’s joni ernst. what a pair. great minds think alike, right?

  15. leslie 2015-11-24 16:12

    we need to get insurance OUT of health care

  16. MD 2015-11-24 19:58

    In 2012/3 I took my anecdotal experience of the health insurance challenges of farmers and got a small grant and went and sent surveys to 1,600 rural addresses around SD to see how health insurance impacts farmers. I was hoping to prove that many spouses are forced to work off the farm for health insurance and that the health insurance rate was lower among farmers. Well, I was wrong on both counts. The insurance rate was higher and wives were not significantly more likely to be running into town to work for insurance.
    What I did find was that farmers face an increasing burden of health care cost as they age which has many feeling like they are “betting the farm” even if they have health insurance coverage, out of fear for catastrophic illness. Those that were on Medicare loved it, and those with private insurance weren’t as gung-ho about accessing the health care system, often delaying care to avoid cost.
    Now everyone will take these results differently, but I’m seeing the ACA as potentially having a good impact on the family farmer.

    As an aside, it floors me that these farm insurance companies haven’t gotten together to make health insurance coops for farmers. While the economics might be difficult to justify, if they are seeking to fulfill a need, that is one of the bigger needs for farmers.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-11-25 10:35

    Hap: Affordable Care Act good for farm families? Yup, that’s what the USDA says:

    Before the ACA, many rural Americans struggled to find affordable healthcare, paying nearly half of all medical costs out of their own pockets. Many self-employed farmers, ranchers, and rural small business owners—some of the most critical contributors to strong rural economies—did not have access to the affordable insurance options that many people get through their employers. Too often, getting quality care in a rural community came with a hefty price tag. But today, more than 70% of all Marketplace enrollees can get covered for $75 a month or less with tax credits.

    If you live in rural America, you’re now less likely to have to go far for quality care. Since 2011, this Administration has made innumerable investments in rural health, and thanks to the ACA, Americans have better access to doctors, nurses and comprehensive prevention and wellness services close to their homes [Nora Deluhery, “Rural Health Week: How the Affordable Care Act is Helping to Build a Stronger, Healthier Rural America,” USDA blog, 2015.11.16].

    If insurance is good for crops, it should be even better for people.

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