WASHINGTON (Sept. 8, 2016) – While the American agricultural landscape has changed dramatically over the past century, the federal farm support system still largely reflects an outdated view of how farms contribute to American society, leading to bloated programs and unnecessary spending, according to a new R Street policy short by Senior Fellow Lori Sanders.

“Nostalgia and sentimentality help to explain the generally broad public support for federal agriculture subsidies,” Sanders writes. “That same support presents a tough uphill climb for those who would like to rein in the ballooning costs of these programs and end their market-distorting effects.”

Examples of waste that has cropped into the program include the expansion of crop insurance eligibility from a handful of staple commodity crops to more than 130 today and the consistent propping up of industrial-scale farms, with the top 20 percent of farms in America receiving 73 percent of premium-support payments.

Sanders concludes: “It’s time to shake the view that farm supports, as currently structured, exist mainly to support small and midsized farms and to place more reasonable restrictions on farm-support programs.”

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