1 Who is NCIS? Communicating the Positive Messages of Crop Insurance Trade Association Provide support and service to crop insurance companies for both Federal and private crop insurance All AIPs are members 95% of CH companies are members Services Policy & procedure review & analysis Support on IT/data processing procedures Agronomic research to develop loss procedures Licensed statistical agent Who is NCIS? Public Relations Mission Services, cont. Provide actuarial documents to agents Adjuster schools/field days Train the Trainer conferences Public relations/communications campaigns Our objective is to communicate positive messages about the crop insurance industry and counter misperceptions that some members of Congress and the media believe and promote.
2 Our Challenges The Opposition* Congressmen and staffers with little or no exposure to farm policy and/or crop insurance 2014 Farm Bill and beyond Budget Deficit Appropriations legislation and other bills Vocal opponents to the program and private sector delivery *Signed letters opposing crop insurance One Example Environmental Working Group (EWG) Reduce/eliminate premium discounts Means testing for crop insurance participation Cap crop insurance benefits Eliminate revenue products Conservation compliance requirements Public reporting of farmers identities Lower A&O Eventually take private out of public private partnership What can be done? The industry MUST be proactive Can t assume others know the truth Opponents with an agenda would be the only voice No such thing as information void someone will fill it
3 Public Relations Efforts Crop Insurance Keeps America Growing Campaign Includes: Comprehensive communications strategy Website Media briefings to increase presence and accuracy in news stories Answer the critics Grassroots and ally support Social Media Main Messages Crop insurance works for America s farmers & ranchers Individual coverage allows flexibility in risk management decisions Public/private partnership works Leverages taxpayer dollars with private industry for efficient and effective delivery system Crop Insurance In America Website Up to date, factual information about crop insurance Relevant news articles about the program Real stories/testimonials from people directly affected by the success of the crop insurance program Congressional testimony and other educational reports Media Briefings Face to face or phone interviews with editors and/or reporters Provide factual information on how crop insurance works and why it s important Establish credibility Source of information down the road
4 Answer the Critics Aggressively rebut factual errors and irresponsible quotes Drought estimates off by $26 billion Wetlands not disappearing; acreage growing Billionaire farmers not reaping benefits Comparing farmers to drunks at an open bar Crop insurance is moonshine Farmers are praying for drought, not rain Just the Facts Publicized undisputable facts about crop insurance Responds to actual criticisms of the program Short answers with links for additional information Most read component of the website not even close! Grassroots and Ally Support Farmers are loved by America Real Stories tell just that the real story Farmer testimonials Case studies Opinion/editorials Engagement with commodity groups at all levels Social Media Facebook facebook.com/cropinsuranceinamerica Twitter USCropinsurance Pinterest pinterest.com/cropinsurance/
5 OtherTools Used to educate and inform readers about changes in the program 17,000+ circulation Readers include every agent, adjuster, company employees, congressmen, etc. Our Tools Communication to Congress, USDA, members Monthly w/bi weekly updates Shows our successes and includes third party support Public Opinion Survey What we did We conducted the first public opinion poll after Farm Bill passage North Star Opinion Research 1,000 registered voters called March First half of survey placed agriculture in broad lists of other issues to see how we compared Second half focused on farm policy details because we were curious What are the public s impressions of farmers and insurers? What are the public s impressions of farm policy and crop insurance? Was agriculture tainted by the farm bill fight? Was crop insurance tainted by the Affordable Care Act?
6 Finding #1 Now I would like to read you a list of names of people and groups and have you tell me, for each one, whether you ve heard of that person or group and, if so, whether you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of them. If you haven t heard of the person or group, just say so: Farmers Insurance Companies Support for farmers was higher than expected after a bruising farm bill fight. Insurers not so much. Finding #2 Now I am going to read you a list of policy areas that the federal government spends money on. For each one, would you please tell me if you view federal spending in that area to be very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important: Support for farm policy in general is high, even among conservatives.
7 Finding #3 As you may know, the federal government provides tax deductions and subsidies for certain actions that people, groups, or companies might take. For each of the following, would you please tell me if you think it appropriate or inappropriate for the federal government to offer a deduction or subsidy: Crop insurance was not tainted by publicized and political Obamacare and flood insurance debates. Finding #4 Congress recently passed, and President Obama signed into law, a farm bill. Based on what you know or may have heard, do you support or oppose that law, or do you not know enough to have an opinion about it? Farm Bill debate didn t penetrate the public consciousness and most people remain uninformed.
8 Which of the following federal farm policies do you think would be best for the country: Finding #5 a) Farmers should receive financial assistance from the government for a set amount every year, regardless of crop prices or weather conditions. b) Farmers should receive financial assistance from the government only when prices fall below a certain level. c) Farmers should receive financial assistance that would provide them a discount on insurance that they would purchase from a private company, that would only pay a claim in the event of bad weather or low prices. When presented with policy options, it s clear the public thinks Congress got it right. Finding #6 As you may know, the federal government helps operate a crop insurance program for the nation s farmers, to protect them in the event of a natural disaster, drought, flood, or crop failure. Farmers purchase insurance policies from private companies, and the federal government pays a portion of the farmers premiums. Does that program sound like a good idea or a bad idea to you? Crop insurance is popular
9 Which of the following statements comes closer to your view: Finding #7 Even when people find out farmers are businesses, not overall wearing gardeners. a) Because of the unique importance of farming, it is appropriate for the federal government to offer financial assistance to farmers, particularly when it comes to protecting them from financial ruin. Natural disasters can strike at any time, and our nation s food supply is too important to risk by letting farmers go bankrupt. b) Most of our nation s food is grown by farming corporations that can easily afford to pay for their own crop insurance premiums without taxpayer money. It is the responsibility of any business to protect itself with insurance, and farmers should not get special treatment that the federal government simply cannot afford. Finding #8 The federal government currently pays about sixty percent of farmers crop insurance premiums. Do you think that percentage paid by the government sounds too high, about right, or too low? The premium discount appears to be the biggest vulnerability.
10 We aren t the only ones aware of this vulnerability President s budget 2013: 2% points ($3.3 billion over 10 years) 2014: 3% points and 4% points on revenue policies ($10.1 billion over 10 years) Republican budget Savings could be achieved by reducing both direct payments and crop insurance subsidies, and by reforming export assistance programs. The bottom line When defending crop insurance, farmers make the most effective messengers People know very little about farm policy but are predisposed to like us When presented the facts, there is one glaring vulnerability How can you help? Know Our Positive Messages Talking points can be found on the website under Just the Facts Contact your Congressman to tell them how important crop insurance is to your local community Write an opinion/editorial piece for your local paper Identify farmers who may be willing to provide testimonial or others who are willing to support crop insurance Laurie Langstraat National Crop Insurance Services risk.org