Farm Subsidies

May 1, 2012 • Volume 6, Issue 9
Do Western farmers still need government support?
By Reed Karaim


A Taiwanese farmer “eggs” the Parliament building in Taipei, opposing a government plan to relax restrictions on U.S. beef imports (AFP/Getty Images/Sam Yeh)
A Taiwanese farmer “eggs” the Parliament building in Taipei, the capital, during a demonstration on March 8, 2012, opposing a government plan to relax restrictions on U.S. beef imports. Farmers worldwide passionately defend their import protections and agricultural subsidies. (AFP/Getty Images/Sam Yeh)

Agriculture has been one of the most heavily protected and subsidized economic sectors in developed countries for more than 80 years. Modern farm programs, arising out of the despair of the Great Depression and the devastation of World War II, have poured billions of dollars into farming in order to maintain commodity prices, stabilize markets, reduce surpluses and encourage conservation. Nevertheless, overall government support for farmers in developed nations fell to historic lows in 2010, as high commodity prices helped make agriculture one of the few economic sectors that is prospering. But as the European Union and the United States begin revising their agricultural programs this year, many analysts question whether farm supports still make sense. Western farm subsidies and policies have hurt developing-world farmers by restricting their access to developed-world markets while allowing Western farmers to export cheaper, subsidized farm goods. Experts say farmers in poor countries must be supported, however, because they will be needed to feed a burgeoning world population.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Farm Policy
Nov. 02, 2018  Organic Farming Boom
May 01, 2012  Farm Subsidies
Dec. 02, 1994  Farm Policy
Aug. 05, 1994  Genetically Engineered Foods
Mar. 25, 1983  Farm Policy's New Course
Oct. 28, 1977  Farm Policy and Food Needs
Apr. 06, 1966  Reversal of Farm Policy
May 02, 1962  Milk Surpluses
Dec. 07, 1949  Brannan Plan
May 01, 1939  Agriculture Under the Trade Agreements
Sep. 20, 1937  Farm Legislation and the Ever-Normal Granary
Nov. 05, 1935  Potato Control Under the A.A.A.
Apr. 25, 1934  Stabilization of the Dairy Industry
Jan. 24, 1930  The Federal Farm Board
Sep. 24, 1928  Wheat Pools in Canada and the United States
Feb. 10, 1927  The McNary-Haugen Bill
Dec. 10, 1924  The President's Agricultural Conference
Farm Loans, Insurance, and Subsidies