Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, University of Tennessee -2003
Disastrously low prices are plaguing farmers worldwide. A deliberate shift in American agricultural policy in the 1990s has paved the way for these depressed crop prices with no mechanisms in place to change the situation. Prices declined after 1996 because that year’s Farm Bill dropped several traditional, crucial safeguards for managing supply and supporting prices.
Conventional wisdom suggested that American agriculture could look forward to a sound future of expanding demand for farm exports. It was thought that the agricultural industry had developed enough to fend for itself, unfettered by restrictive government programs. That wasn’t how it worked out.
Since US policies influence the fate of farmers well beyond our borders, policy approaches addressing the needs of US farmers should recognize our larger global influence.
- Explores why the changes in US policy brought about by the 1996 Farm Bill produced declining revenues;
- Demonstrates that the solution to global low prices involves considerably more than just eliminating subsidies; and
- Introduces a policy blueprint that would raise crop prices universally, thus contributing to a healthy and vigorous worldwide agricultural industry.
Changing US policy alone cannot solve the global crisis in agriculture, but it is an important step toward a global cooperative solution that can benefit farmers around the world.