Report Alleges ‘Safflower Fiasco’: The Federal Crop Insurance Corp. allowed California farmers to insure a safflower crop that had no chance to grow in the fourth year of drought, and then paid $14.8 million for the losses, congressional investigators said. The payments include “a single indemnity payment to one farm of over $1.5 million and an average payment of $105,304,” said Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., in releasing the report on the 1990 California safflower crop by the General Accounting Office. The GAO discovered weaknesses in the FCIC’s safflower program during an investigation of federal crop insurance for Kerrey, who called the California payments “the safflower fiasco.” The congressional auditors said staff members in the Agriculture Department agency reported that weak internal controls and political pressure to expand crop insurance coverage led the agency to offer coverage to safflower producers in three California counties that were in their fourth year of drought and had no reasonable chance of producing a crop on their non-irrigated land.
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