Pundits, analysts see US Crop Insurance program a money-laundering scheme

By Rizza Sta. Ana

Sep 10, 2013 07:18 AM EDT

Since the inception of a crop insurance program by  the US Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency to aid farmers in crop disease and drought, the expanded program has been a gold mine not only to insurers, but to outsiders as well. According to a report by Bloomberg, the crop insurance program not only award subsidies to insurers approved by the government, but also provided indirect benefits to foreign financial institutions who reinsures the crop risks.

18 companies got an approval to receive cash from the state for providing farmers crop insurance. Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Zurich-based Ace Ltd. (ACE), and units of Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), (AFG) Deere & Co. (DE) and  American Financial Group Inc. received state fund backing.

Data from the Congressional Research Service showed that ultimately, US taxpayers are getting the brunt of the cost as opposed to the insurers. Taxpayers had spent USD14 billion alone in 2012 to pay over 60% of farmer's premiums, insurers' operation costs and a big chunk of insurance claims due to drought. University of Tennessee's Agricultural Policy Analysis Center Harwood Schaffer said, "What we've got is a money-laundering operation. It looks like we're doing a free market thing and it's not free market at all."

Amidst the US government's efforts to curb spending in important sectors like health, nutrition and environmental programs, corporation aid remained intact. Moreover, data compiled by Bloomberg showed that the private companies who were aided by the government did not need financial assistance. For example, Wells Fargo has USD1.4 trillion in assets. Its Rural Community Insurance Services is the largest crop insurer in the US by premium value.

Fitch Ratings' North American insurance group director Gretchen Roetzer said, "If they stay in over the long term, they're going to have a profit. The odds are in their favor.' 

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