The Shaky Foundations of Modern Farm Policy
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We can no longer afford to continue offering the same farm safety net that was designed for a different time.
The current federal agriculture safety net is based on outdated ideas from an entirely different agriculture economy. Modern farms bear little resemblance to the small, inefficient farms of the 1920s and 30s that the current policies were initially designed to support. Worse, the foundations of today’s farm policies were laid by individuals looking to the failed command-and-control economic models of the Soviet Union, imitating policies that contributed to starvation and persistent food shortages throughout that country’s history.
In contrast, many of today’s farms are large and successful, with farm households earning far above the average nonfarm household income. Technological breakthroughs from tractors to refrigeration have transformed the domestic food chain into one of maximum production and consumer choice. But agriculture innovators outside the traditional farm model cannot compete on a level playing field, and current policies favor out-of-date, unsustainable practices. In addition, the exorbitant cost of the national farm insurance program is contributing to our rising national debt, which poses a significant threat to America’s fiscal prosperity.
This paper looks at the origins and intent of the current federal agriculture safety net and explains why we can no longer afford to continue offering the same farm safety net that was designed for a different time.