Rice growers' heavy investments in irrigation have resulted in lower crop insurance program participation levels, U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator William J. Murphy told the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.

Murphy was the only Obama administration witness to testify during the hearing. Other witnesses represented crop insurance companies and agents. Murphy testified that RMA's newly renegotiated agreement with crop insurance companies "will have no adverse impact on farmers' premium costs."

Subcommittee Chairman Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, called the hearing to review the state of the crop insurance industry. Boswell said farmers need a good crop insurance agent, market access and a good banker to succeed in agriculture today.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., questioned Murphy about the administration's decision to use $2 billion of crop insurance funds for the Conservation Reserve Program, money which Peterson said had been included in the 2008 farm bill. Murphy said that he was unfamiliar with the decision. Peterson said he was waiting for an answer from the Office of Management and Budget about the issue.

USA Rice Federation has formed a Crop Insurance Task Force to develop new crop insurance products to assist producers with their risk management decisions.