Queen Anne's County, Maryland
“I look at crop insurance as just another expense, not an extra. It is just another necessary input like fuel and seed needed for the farm to be profitable,” says Betsy Leager of Sudlersville, Maryland, reflecting on how crucial crop insurance is to Leager Farms.
Spread over thousands of acres of northern Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, Betsy, husband Tom and their four sons operate multiple farms in a diverse operation. All four sons have their own farms, but “the family works together as a unit,” Betsy explains. The sons work in the shop all winter, keeping the family’s equipment in top condition.
Daughter Danielle, who studies biology at Salisbury University, works on the farm during breaks. In addition to corn, wheat, soybeans and straw, the Leagers grow vegetables for commercial canning including sweet corn, spinach, string and lima beans, squash and tomatoes. One son grows chickens and livestock is represented by a few beef cattle. There are hogs raised by three grandsons as 4-H projects, just as their father, Tommy, did when he was young. The grandsons will be the fifth generation to farm in Queen Anne’s County.
Amid what could be chaos, crop insurance brings calm
With their hands in numerous ventures, there are many ways something could go wrong for Leager Farms. Betsy and Tom say crop insurance is the way to prevent catastrophe. “It’s a safety net that catches you when the market and weather are not in your favor,” Tom notes. “With crop insurance, you have something coming in even if things go wrong.”
“Even with irrigation, you can have losses in wet years,” he adds, noting that vegetables were hurt in past years by excess rain.
Kathi Levan, crop insurance manager for MidAtlantic Farm Credit, explains there are two types of crop insurance for corn and soybeans – a yield policy that guarantees bushels and a revenue policy that is essentially an enhanced yield policy.
Betsy says, “We are surely glad we had revenue crop insurance this year when grain prices moved down.”
Crop insurance has been a part of Leager Farms for a long time. “We have had crop insurance since 1988, the year we got married,” Betsy recalls. Tom adds, “We have had total disaster years when we got 30 bushels of corn [per acre.]” Betsy says, “In 1993, we got around 17 bushels.”
Farm Credit is there to help
Why buy crop insurance from Farm Credit when it is available from many sources? The Leagers don’t hesitate, “They’re great people to deal with and always make the best recommendations,” says Tom.
“Farm Credit has always been there for us during good years and hard years.” Betsy adds. “They know our operation and keep on top of things.”
“We have a relationship with Farm Credit with our farm loans. It is beneficial to go through them. We get more service than we might get somewhere else,” she says.
Looking ahead, both Betsy and Tom hope to leave a strong farming operation to the next generations. Betsy explains, “If not for crop insurance, the farm wouldn’t be as vital as it is today. That’s important for us, for our children and grandchildren.”
“As we get older, we look forward to passing things down. We want to look to many more generations on the farm. It’s a hard life but a good life,” she concludes.
This article originally ran in MidAtlantic Farm Credit's customer magazine, the Leader.