The devastation of the 1930s Dust Bowl triggered a host of government responses to help impoverished farmers. Among them: a program to insure crops against failure.
U.S. taxpayers in fiscal year 2012 spent about $14 billion protecting farmers against crop losses. Last year's drought, the worst in almost 60 years, triggered a record payout, coming even as U.S. farm income is expected to top $128 billion.
Nearly 1.2 million policies covering 282 million acres of farmland were in force last year, insuring almost all the corn, soybeans, cotton and wheat grown in the U.S. The government says the program will cost American taxpayers at least $87 billion over the next decade.
Special Report: Doomed Crops, Record Profits