Changes in the balance of political power and in budgetary constraints create a roller- coaster in US agricultural policy with shifts between more and less government intervention, higher and lower spending, and more or less liberal approaches to international trade. The suspension of the WTO negotiations and the replacement of a Republican by a Democratic majority in the Congress have created a different political climate from the last Farm Bill in 2002. The economic picture is also very different with less public money to lavish on farmers and less pressure to spend, particularly since many farmers are benefiting from higher crop prices driven by rapidly expanding bio-energy production. With weak internal and external pressures for change, the new legislation is unlikely to depart radically from the 2002 Farm Act or to be crafted to accommodate future international commitments. There could be some movement away from price-based support to measures that target revenue, primarily because future payments are likely to be low if prices for farm products remain strong. But the policy roller-coaster is unlikely to promise an exciting ride for those who would like to see a change in priority from price and income support towards environmental and other aims and towards greater market orientation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development