The Stakeholders in Agricultural Policy
The Environmental Forum. July-August 2022. 39(4), 42-53.
13 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2022
Date Written: July 1, 2022
Our society cannot implement effective policies to reduce agricultural emissions without an accurate understanding of the primary constituencies. While analysts often make broad statements about “farmers,” “ranchers,” and “rural communities,” careful analysis of who actually produces our food, where and how they live, and how they are doing is much more rare. For example, while mainstream news reports suggested that 2019 was yet another crisis year for farmers, “when farm families wondered how they were going to keep the farm afloat,” farmers overall, in fact, saw their 11th highest per farm profits since 1929. Many of these commentators do not include in their assessment the profound impact on producer income of federal counter-cyclical subsidies, favorable tax treatment, and exports supported or even mandated by trade agreements. These programs can even make the costs of climate change harder to discern, as relief programs often ensure that the costs of increased weather variability or extreme weather events do not fall on farmers. And, over and above the established farm bill conservation, commodity, and crop insurance programs, the president can, and often does, provide significant additional assistance through the Commodity Credit Corporation—in 2019 the Trump administration doubled government direct payments to farmers up to almost $24 billion. Without this full picture, policymaking is hobbled.
Keywords: farm, farm economy, farmworkers, rural economy, racial justice, environmental policy, climate change
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