Price analysis, risk assessment, and insurance for organic crops

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2011-08-01
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Singerman, Ariel
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Hart, Chad
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Lence, Sergio
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Economics

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

History
The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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1898–present

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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Abstract

The Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000 recognized organic farming as a “good farming practice,” making federal crop insurance coverage available for organic crops, and taking into account the idiosyncrasies of the organic production system. In addition to the production risks covered for conventional producers, organic farmers who sign up for coverage are compensated for production losses from damage due to insects, disease, and/or weeds. However, the incorporation of organic production into the crop insurance rating structure has been limited. Organic producers are charged an arbitrary 5% premium surcharge over conventional crop insurance. The actuarial fairness of this premium is, at least, questionable. In addition, in the case of crop failure, organic farmers receive compensation based on the prices of conventionally produced crops. Thus, price premiums that organic producers are able to obtain in the market are not compensated for under the current insurance policy structure. The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008, which amends part of the Federal Crop Insurance Act, was written to investigate some of these claims, requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to examine the currently offered federal crop insurance coverage for organic crops as described in the organic policy provisions of the Act (Title XII). Such provisions established the need to review, among other things, the underwriting risk and loss experience of organic crops; determine whether significant, consistent, or systematic variations in loss history exist between organic and nonorganic production; and modify the coverage for organic crops in accordance with the results. Here we present the major findings of three analyses we performed on key elements of the insurance of organic crops -- prices, yields, and revenue -- in an effort to contribute to the design of an organic crop insurance policy that covers organic producers according to their idiosyncratic risks.

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