Welfare for Agribusiness: A Quick Review


Brian Riedl on farm subsidies:

[I]f subsidies were really designed to alleviate farmer poverty, then lawmakers could guarantee every full-time farmer an income of 185% of the federal poverty level ($38,203 for a family of four) for under $5 billion annually—one-fifth the current cost of farm subsidies.

Instead, federal farm policies specifically bypass family farmers. Subsidies are paid per acre, so the largest (and most profitable) agribusinesses automatically receive the biggest checks. Consequently, commercial farmers—who report an average annual income of $200,000 and a net worth of nearly $2 million—collect the majority of farm subsidies. Fortune 500 companies, celebrity "hobby farmers" and even some members of Congress collect millions of dollars under this program.

These farm policies are more than merely ineffective—they impose substantial harm. They cost Americans $25 billion in taxes and an additional $12 billion in higher food prices annually. Environmental damage results from farmers over-planting crops in order to maximize subsidies.

[Via Andrew Sullivan.]