Bad Seeds

Sneaky Farmers Plan Insurance Cons

The federal government is cracking down on farmers running insurance scams by hiking penalties and surveying crops by satellite. A growing number of farmers have been getting taxpayer compensation for crops they claim were destroyed by weather or insects, and then selling those crops for further profit. A North Carolina tomato grower netted $9.2 million by faking a hail storm using a camera and a bag of ice cubes, while the ongoing investigation "Under the Barn" has so far nabbed 22 people who swindled at least $22 million by claiming their tobacco crops were ruined by foul weather. The government subsidizes many farm policies, so insurance companies have little incentive to investigate claims. But claims cost the federal government: $4 billion in total in 2009, and from $100 to $200 million in false claims per year.