June 17, 2013

Bloated Farm Bill Subsidies: Will the Farm Bill Cut the Fat?

Vincent H. Smith

Summary

A new study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University analyzes current farm bill proposals by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. The study’s author Vincent H. Smith, a professor of economics at Montana State University, examines how reducing farm subsidies by various levels would affect the structure of US agricultural policy.

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A new study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University analyzes current farm bill proposals by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. The study’s author Vincent H. Smith, a professor of economics at Montana State University, examines how reducing farm subsidies by various levels would affect the structure of US agricultural policy.

Dr. Smith:

“American taxpayers spend more than $20 billion per year on farm subsidies—eighty percent of which flows to the largest and wealthiest 15 percent of farming operations, with annual incomes at least three-to-four times those of the average taxpayer.

“If Washington is truly looking to cut a little waste, the farm bill provides an exceptional opportunity. I found that farm subsidies could be reduced by at least half—saving about $9-10 billion per year, or about 10 percent of current farm bill spending—without any measurable effect on agricultural production.

“The concern is that Congress will instead do some cosmetic reduction in total farm bill spending, while creating new programs that appear to be funded at modest levels but put taxpayers on the hook for costs far greater than any savings they’ll claim to achieve.”

To view the full study and a brief summary, and to learn more about the author, please see “The 2013 Farm Bill: Limiting Waste by Limiting Farm-Subsidy Budgets.”