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GCN : October 2013
12 GCN OCTOBER 2013 • GCN.COM Center of Agribusiness Excellence. The team started with the basics, collect- ing and comparing claims data and looking for unusual patterns. Is one farmer making claims that are different than those coming from other farms in the region? When the program detects such a pat- tern, the unit will send out a letter saying that a representative from USDA may come out at some point during the year and in- spect the farm's operation. "After notifying the farmers, we saw pretty drastic behavioral changes in the producers and in their claim rates," said Kirk Bryant, deputy director of strategic data acquisition and analysis at RMA. "Af- ter we sent a letter or inspected their farms, their claims were consistent with the other claims in the county." While the first "spot check list" was gen- erated in 2001 solely from claims data, the program has since added data from many different sources. The first step was to add data collected by the Farm Service Agency, including aerial imagery, crop data and information about farm loans and disaster assistance. "Through the data-mining facility we could do 'scrubbing,' and match the data between FSA and RMA," Bryant said. The project next added data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which conducts soil surveys. In 2006 the team began to integrate sat- ellite data. At first, the data was supplied BY PATRICK MARSHALL It doesn't have a catchy name like Batman or the Green Lantern, but the Crop Insur- ance Program Compliance and Integrity Data Warehouse is an effective, and in- novative, crime fighter. It combs through mountains of data looking for atypical patterns among insurance claims, cross- checking them with data from high-solu- tion satellite images and weather records. At stake are billions of dollars. The project, run by the Agriculture De- partment's Risk Management Agency and developed and maintained by Tarleton State University's Center for Agribusiness Excellence, was designed to identify fraud- ulent crop insurance claims. That's a more challenging task than it might seem at first glance. After all, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, which is overseen by RMA, has more than a million policies outstanding in 3,200 coun- ties. When drought afflicts farms in West Texas or floods drown corn fields in Iowa, sending agents out to confirm each claim is simply not feasible. Concerned about fraudulent crop-loss claims, Congress passed the Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000 (ARPA), which mandated the use of a data warehouse and data-mining technologies to improve crop insurance program compliance and integ- rity. Accordingly, RMA, which had already been moving in that direction, launched its data-mining project with Tarleton State's Agriculture's high-res view of fraud System combines Landsat imagery and weather data with crop insurance claims data and agricultural data to keep farmers honest "We're doing all of this in- house. When you're doing exploratory studies you have to build your own tools." -- BERT LITTLE, TARLETON STATE UNIVERSITY PROJECT AT A GLANCE NAME OF THE PROJECT: Crop Insurance Program Compliance and Integrity Data Warehouse OFFICE/DIVISION/TEAM: USDA Risk Management Agency and the Center for Agribusiness Excellence at Tarleton State University TECHNOLOGY USED: Teradata Database 14 and custom software. TIME TO IMPLEMENT: Started in 2000. COST: $50.68 million. BY THE NUMBERS : 170 data sources 3 terabytes of RMA policy information 120 terabytes of weather, satellite and other remotely sensed data 1.3 million crop insurance policies 3,200 counties