The 2013 drought across a wide swath of the U.S. Cornbelt has resulted in high insurance payments, both for farmers who faced lower yields than they expected at planting and for farmers who had a modest or better crop but received payments because they took out revenue insurance with a harvest-time price option. The resulting high cost to the U.S. government resulted in a chorus from opponents to crop insurance.

As we listen to those voices, it is important to listen to the nuances in the arguments they make because they are not all the same.

At one pole, we have those opposed to any type of crop insurance simply because they oppose all farm programs—some of them even go so far as to call for the elimination of the United States Department of Agriculture. But even among this group are some differences. Some oppose farm programs on economic grounds, arguing that the free market is better at allocating resources than government policy. Others simply want to shrink the size of government because they see the government as the problem.

Others oppose crop insurance and crop-specific payments to farmers because they would like to see the money going to crop insurance and other areas switched to an area about which they are passionate—usually the environment.