Weather Markets: Accounting for Climate in Early American Agri-business

In a blog post on, Dr. Josh MacFadyen of Arizona State University outlines how the Archer-Daniels Midland Linseed Company (ADM) made climate data into a commodity during the early 20th century. ADM provided reports for their customers detailing real-time weather conditions in major flax-producing areas in Canada, the northern U.S. plains, and Argentine Pampas. Because crop yields were most tied to weather conditions during summer months, this information helped ADM’s clients make purchases on the futures market – evidence that these commodity systems were more rooted in the natural world than some scholars have allowed. Notably, ADM’s climate data was collected and distributed independent of the growing network of meteorologists and climate scientists, suggesting that early private sector interest in climate data had a distinct history from early climate science.

See the full article here.