U.S. Farm Policy and the Variability of Commodity Prices and Farm Revenues

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2000-03-01
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Hayes, Dermot
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Lence, Sergio
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Center for Agricultural and Rural Development

The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) conducts innovative public policy and economic research on agricultural, environmental, and food issues. CARD uniquely combines academic excellence with engagement and anticipatory thinking to inform and benefit society.

CARD researchers develop and apply economic theory, quantitative methods, and interdisciplinary approaches to create relevant knowledge. Communication efforts target state and federal policymakers; the research community; agricultural, food, and environmental groups; individual decision-makers; and international audiences.

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Historically, the U.S. government has had a substantial involvement in the agricultural sector. Lence and Hayes use a dynamic, three-commodity, rational-expectations storage model to compare the impact of the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act of 1996 with a free-market policy and with the agricultural policies that preceded the FAIR Act. They show that the transitional payments created to replace the pre-FAIR deficiency payments are much lower than the payments they replaced, which does reduce farm revenues. An important finding of the study is that the main economic impacts of the pre-FAIR scenario, relative to the free-market regime, were to transfer income to farmers and to substitute government storage for private storage in a way that did little to distort prices or to stabilize farm incomes.

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