Local and Global Perspectives on the New U.S. Farm Policy

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2015-08-10
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Babcock, Bruce
Emeritus Professor
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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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The new farm bill and the Agricultural Risk Protection Act (ARPA) provide us with good insight into Congress’s farm policy objectives. When all was said and done, Congress felt no need to justify the billions in farm aid as fulfilling some broad public purpose. Rather, the actions of Congress have revealed a simple objective: to support per-acre revenues of a chosen few commodities—corn, cotton, wheat, rice, peanuts, soybeans (and minor oilseeds), barley, oats, and sugar. Heavily subsidized crop insurance protects farmers against per-acre yield (and revenue) shortfalls, and the combination of the new countercyclical payment program and the marketing loan program protects farmers against price declines.

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