Climate Change and the Most Widely Grown Staple Crop in the World

Climate Change and the Most Widely Grown Staple Crop in the World

Climate Change and the Most Widely Grown Staple Crop in the World: An actuarial approach to forecasting farm production and investigating agricultural insurance loss ratios over time.

Wheat is the most widely grown staple crop in the world, accounting for a fifth of globally consumed calories and continuing to rise in demand. It’s in many of the foods we consume each day — from bread and cereal to soy sauce and canned soup.

Since wheat is an integral part of our diets, it’s important to understand how its production will be affected in the near future. The experiments presented provide insight into the differences in losses and gains incurred by agricultural insurance companies associated with wheat-growing regions, and we analyze the relationships between causes of loss_, _climate change, and wheat production to provide more information to farmers, insurance companies, and consumers.

What are we investigating?

In the insurance industry, loss ratio represents the ratio of losses to premiums (gains) earned. Crop insurance policies tend to be composed to address production at the regional and state levels, perhaps with the assumption that farms in similar geographies yield similar magnitudes of output. We suggest that detailed analyses at the county level could provide better gains and more specific information for farmers and insurance companies alike. To assess if encouraging greater granularity in insurance policy development could be beneficial, we ask:

Will loss ratio distributions differ significantly for counties in physical proximity?

The state of Washington is a leading producer of wheat in the United States. Here, we evaluate whether counties within Washington exhibit different loss ratio distributions. To do this, we randomly chose two counties in close geographical proximity — these were Skagit and Whitman. From these counties, we’ll be using crop and financial data from USDA’s Agricultural Report Generator and Quick Stats Portal.

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data-science food climate-change insurance data analysis

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