OFBF staff testimony on SB 66, Grain Indemnity Fund

Good afternoon Chairman Hite, Ranking Member Gentile, and members of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

My name is Brandon Kern. I am director of state policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.The Ohio Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization representing more than 214,000 member families located in all 88 of Ohio’s counties. While our membership encompasses a broad swath of Ohioans from farmer to consumer and all stages in between, our policy is developed in a grassroots process by representatives from our more than 60,000 farmer members. Agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry, adding $107 billion to our economy every year.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of Senate Bill 66, legislation that would make several changes to the grain indemnity program, including an increase in the amount of the fund cap to $15 million.

The grain indemnity fund was created in 1983 to reimburse farmers in the event a licensed grain elevator became insolvent. In 2004 the indemnity cap was increased from $8 million to $10 million, and farmers paid the corresponding half-cent assessment for a two year period before the new cap was reached. In 2004, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) paid out approximately $2.5 million from the fund. At today’s grain prices, that payout would be approximately $6.6 million.

Historic increases in agriculture commodity prices have fueled new debate about the appropriate level of funding for the grain indemnity fund.