Whither Farm Policy?
As the U.S. Congress prepares to pump at least $8.7 billion in supplemental aid to farmers (on top of the $10.5 billion that has already been earmarked), many people—both in and out of agriculture—are openly wondering if there isn’t a better way to run farm programs. To many, it seems that we have no coherent farm policy in the sense that tax dollars are being committed with no clear objective in mind. After two straight years of supplemental appropriations, it is clear that the current farm program (the FAIR Act of 1996, commonly known as Freedom to Farm) is not a politically sustainable policy. And, the policy objective of the ad-hoc aid is clouded by the apparent inability of Congress to pass aid packages targeting assistance to the most at-risk farmers.