Double Dipping?

With debates over the farm bill likely to heat up over the next year, it's interesting to see the lines of arguments coming out from different camps.  Today, the Environmental Working Group, an opponent of many farm subsidies, came out with a new publication.  They focus on what they call "double dipping", in which farmers receive payment when a loss occurs both from commodity programs (ARC or PLC) and from subsidized crop insurance programs.  

In their words:

But farmers can – and hundreds of thousands do – participate in either ARC or PLC and in the crop insurance program. Most of the double dipping in the 2014 and 2015 growing seasons came from duplication of crop insurance and ARC payouts.

You don’t need a degree in agricultural economics to see the result: multiple payments going to the same farmers in the same counties to cover the same “drop” in revenue from crop sales. The interactive map below shows the counties where farmers received duplicate payments from at least two of the three programs.

In 2015, more than 2,300 counties received an ARC or PLC payment for losses incurred in 2014. Crop insurance policies paid out in more than three-fourths of those counties in 2014. The pattern was repeated the following year.

They created several maps illustrating where they argue "double-dipping" has most occured.


Over the last few farm bills, there seems to be less emphasis on traditional commodity programs and more focus on crop insurance.  To the extent arguments like this hold sway, I suspect that transition will continue.