National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) today released a detailed explanation of the evolution of U.S. farm policy over the past two centuries and crop insurance’s recent rise to prominence.

The paper was included in NCIS’s quarterly magazine, Crop Insurance TODAY® and was made available at an international conference of agricultural leaders who traveled to the United States to discuss the policies and technologies that will be needed to meet the challenges facing the global farming community.

Maintaining a thriving agricultural sector, which supports the U.S. economy and domestic food security, has been a top policy priority in America from the beginning, NCIS explained. That protection currently comes in the form of a public-private insurance system that is delivered by insurance companies, partially funded by farmers, and can be tailored to suit an individual producer’s unique needs.

“What tomorrow holds is anyone’s guess, but charting a course for the future is not possible unless we understand the policy decisions of our past,” the article noted.

The advancement of crop insurance was largely in response to modern-day realities, including tight federal budgets, the capital-intensive nature of farming, extreme weather, and the efficiency required to compete in today’s global marketplace.

Like crop insurance, previous farm policies reflected the issues of the times in which they were written. For example, the 19th century focused on educating and communicating with farmers to improve efficiency; the concept of a safety net sprung out of the Great Depression; and disaster assistance became more prevalent after the weather disasters and market collapses of the 1980s.

“Getting to this point has required the foresight of leaders dating back to the founding of this great nation who shared a common goal of securing America’s food and fiber supply,” the article concluded. “It will be important that future leaders share this same overarching goal, and as a crop insurance industry, we must remain ready to do our part in meeting whatever challenges tomorrow may bring.”

The entire paper is available here. It was published to correspond with the biennial meeting of the International Association of Agricultural Production Insurers (AIAG), which is being held this week for the first time in America.