Record Number of Crop Insurance Payouts Stirs Subsidy Debate - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Record Number of Crop Insurance Payouts Stirs Subsidy Debate

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Farmers are filing a record $16 billion in crop insurance claims for 2012 because of widespread drought, and the staggering amount has critics calling for changes in the federal crop insurance program.

Farmers buy crop insurance, but the federal government pays 62 percent of their premiums and picks up the tab for losses over a certain amount. One analyst estimates the federal tab for 2012 will come to about $11 billion.

It's the second consecutive year of record crop insurance payments, with flooding and drought in 2011 followed by an even worse drought.

The Federal Crop Insurance Corp. puts the total losses so far at $15.91 billion, with some claims still pending. That's at least a 47 percent increase from the $10.8 billion in losses in 2011.

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