It’s wonderful to extol the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, to urge them to be made more available in our schools and restaurant menus and to fight to better educate the public about the growing body of research that shows fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health.

But what about fighting for public policies that support the very farmers who grow fruits and vegetables? Specialty crop growers — those farmers who grow crops including apples, peaches and pears — are somewhat unique in agriculture in that they grow higher value, often perennial crops and are slightly more vulnerable than the average commodity farmer or rancher.

And while the last decade has seen a wide variety of farm policies that were devised to help the growers of the major commodities in times of weather calamites, one policy that has really worked for the specialty crop industry is crop insurance.

That’s why, as a crop insurance agent, it’s so distressing that the Senate passed an amendment to the farm bill that would subject crop insurance participation to a means test. The means test would essentially take insurance benefits away from many of the larger, well-established and highly profitable farmers and ranchers.

Now at first glance, this might sound like a good idea, given the fact that so many Americans are struggling. But the amendment holds serious ramifications — particularly for specialty crop farmers here in South Carolina and elsewhere — who will suffer from the unintended consequences of removing highly successful farmers from the insurance pool.

The Coburn-Durbin amendment risks driving up premium costs for specialty crop farmers, and other small and mid-sized farmers, because it would effectively remove the most successful and thus least risky farmers — who keep everyone else’s premiums low — from the insurance pool.