Crop Insurance and Financialization

Early views are available of my latest article in Enterprise & Society, “Crop Insurance and the New Deal Roots of Agricultural Financialization.” Federal crop insurance, initially developed as a social insurance program during the late New Deal, was beset by pervasive problems of adverse selection and moral hazard. As managers and policy makers responded to those problems from the 1940s on, they reshaped federal crop insurance in ways that increasingly made the scheme a lever of financialization, a means of disciplining individual farmers to think of farming in abstract terms of risk management. Crop insurance became intertwined with important changes in the economic context of agriculture by the 1960s, including the emergence of the “technological treadmill,” permanently embedding financialized risk management into the political economy of American agriculture.