FMH employees Zach Allsup, Assistant Vice President – Claims and Chad Simon, Product Development Manager, recently attended the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau (CIRB) Fly-In event in late October as part of the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) in Washington D.C. along with ten other class members. Aaron Rutledge, Vice President and Claims Manager, also represented FMH at the Fly-In.
In its fifth year, the Emerging Leaders Program allows participants to gain hands-on experience advocating for crop insurance and learn more about key industry issues.
To prepare for their visit with congressional leaders, Allsup and Simon took part in a Lobby 101 session about the basics of advocating, where they were briefed with key talking points. Allsup said, “I had never been to D.C. to advocate for crop insurance. I have been part of various groups that have met with RMA and NCIS to discuss the program but have never met with our senators and representatives.”
During the Fly-In, ELP participants and members of the CIRB staff met with more than 35 congressional members, both Republicans and Democrats alike, to discuss ways to protect and keep crop insurance affordable.
Even with the difficult weather and crop year, Simon described his meetings with congressional members as very positive. “Our interactions were very laid back and wholesome, whether it was a congress or staff member,” Simon noted. The members he met with were very engaged, and not only did he get to talk about key crop insurance issues, he also got to learn what constituents were asking congressional members about crop insurance. Allsup echoed this, “The senators, representatives, and their staff were easy to talk to and all encouraged us to bring issues to them as they arise.”
As part of the Fly-In, Allsup and Simon also attended an executive committee meeting and worked closely with other ELP participants. While some of the participants are from competitor companies, the overall group represented key crop insurance issues. Simon added, “Everything is based around CIRB, so no one talked about their own company, and you talked more as a united group than an individual. It was good conversing with other members about insurance products and hearing differing opinions.”
Most of the conversations during the Fly-In centered around prevented planting, ad hoc payments, climate change, hemp, and WFRP products, along with discussions about ways to provide, protect, and improve crop insurance. As far as ad hoc payments go, Allsup made a point to tell congressional members how the crop insurance program should be strengthened to reduce the need for these payments. Allsup explained, “A producer can’t go to a lender and get an operating loan with the hope that they will receive a disaster payment if things get bad. They need crop insurance to be there to guarantee protection.”
Allsup reflected on his first experience advocating in the nation’s capital, “Our leaders are just people and they are quite approachable. And, as the saying goes, the country is run by 22-year-old staffers.”
Both Allsup and Simon will return to Washington D.C. this spring for the second CIRB Fly-In event and graduate from the Emerging Leaders Program