Sunday, June 17, 2012

USDA/FSA Prizes for Innovation

A number of economists like the idea of prizes and competitions for innovation.  They have a long history: if memory serves, Charles Lindbergh's flight was to win a competition for the first solo crossing of the Atlantic.  They've been used more recently, as in Netflix's competition to improve their algorithm for suggesting DVD's one might like.  I believe the Obama administration has used them, though at the moment I can't remember a specific instance.  All of which leads to this question:

Is there a prize/competition USDA/FSA could sponsor that would be worthwhile? (It's brought to mind by a factoid I believe I ran across: crop insurance agents get $900 or $1000 for each policy they administer.)

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