The Evolving Role of the Usda in the Food and Agricultural Economy

56 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2018

See all articles by Jayson L. Lusk

Jayson L. Lusk

Oklahoma State University - Department of Agricultural Economics

Date Written: 06/24/2016

Abstract

Since its inception in 1862, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has experienced dramatic growth and change, as has the industry it was set up to serve. The expanding, and sometimes conflicting, interests inherent in current USDA mandates came to a head during the most recent farm bill debate and pushed off passage for more than a year. Food writers and activists have proposed new agendas for the department. This paper first takes a step back and documents the changes that have occurred over time to US agriculture in general and to the USDA in particular, showing a diverse mix of current activities brought about by mission creep. The paper then reviews the academic research on the effects of selected USDA policies on agricultural producers and food consumers. Conventional economic justifications for government intervention along with public-choice analyses of intervention are discussed in light of selected USDA programs and the changes witnessed in agriculture over the past century. The paper concludes by highlighting some of the challenges and conflicts that exist with the current USDA mandates and asks what changes might be justified on economic efficiency grounds.

Suggested Citation

Lusk, Jayson L., The Evolving Role of the Usda in the Food and Agricultural Economy (06/24/2016). MERCATUS RESEARCH, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3191484 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3191484

Jayson L. Lusk (Contact Author)

Oklahoma State University - Department of Agricultural Economics ( email )

Stillwater, OK 74078-6026
United States
405-744-6161 (Phone)

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