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Think tank urges radical farm policy reforms

The American Enterprise Institute got a great deal of media coverage this week after releasing the organization’s recommendations and detailed background information relating to the reauthorization of the U.S. Farm Bill in 2012.

The institute says that farms and farm households have no more need for federal programs that subsidize incomes and risk-protection strategies than any other businesses or households. Eliminating inefficient and outdated agricultural subsidies in the Farm Bill could save U.S. taxpayers more than $100 billion over the next decade while having little impact on the country’s food supply or its farmers’ viability.

The AEI statements were packaged under a headline describing American farm subsidies as an “American Boondoggle.” One of the articles, titled Picking on the Poor: How US Agricultural Policy Hurts the Developing World, was written by the director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center Dan Sumner.

“In many ways, U.S. agricultural policy is harmful to the global poor. Farm-commodity and related subsidies reduce world prices, especially when prices are already low,” Sumner wrote. “A typical small cotton farm in Africa would have gained more than $100 per year if U.S. programs had not depressed cotton prices.”

This isn’t the first time the American Enterprise Institute has called for farm subsidy cuts, said an article in the Billings Gazette, but with a tight U.S. budget and the number of U.S. citizens with farming-related jobs down to one in 50, AEI officials said they believe they have a good chance of influencing cuts to the 2012 Farm Bill.

Other publications that picked up the story included:

Dan Sumner
Dan Sumner

Posted on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 9:16 AM
Tags: Dan Sumner (33), Farm Bill (5)

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