World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Agricultural policy of the United States

Article Id: WHEBN0016299435
Reproduction Date:

Title: Agricultural policy of the United States  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, Agricultural Act of 1970, Agricultural Adjustment Act Amendment of 1935, Agricultural Act of 1948, Public policy of the United States
Collection: United States Agricultural Policy
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Agricultural policy of the United States

The agricultural policy of the United States is composed primarily of the periodically renewed federal U.S. farm bills.


  • History 1
    • Beginning of price supports 1.1
    • Increased comprehensiveness 1.2
      • 1970s 1.2.1
  • Political and economic dynamics 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5


Over the first 200 years of U.S. agricultural history until the 1920s, agricultural policy in the US was dominated by policy directed at developing and supporting family farms and the inputs of the total agricultural sector, such as land, research, and human labor. Developmental policy included such legislation as the Land Act of 1820, the Homestead Act, which granted 160-acre (0.65 km2) townships, and the Morrill Act of 1862, which initiated the land-grant college system, one in a long series of acts that provided public support for agricultural research and education.

In 1933, with many farmers losing money because of the

Further reading

  1. ^ United States Department of Agriculture, History of Price-Support Agricultural and Adjustment Programs, 1933–84
  2. ^
  3. ^ EPA
  4. ^ Center for Responsive Politics
  5. ^ Farm Subsidies Over Time
  6. ^ Pasour Jr, E.C. "Intellectual Tyranny of the Status Quo: Agricultural Economists and the State". (April 2004). [1]



See also

Also, the majority of agricultural policy research is funded by the USDA. Some economists believe this creates an incentive for government intervention to persist because, among other considerations, the USDA will most likely not fund research criticizing its own activities.[6]

A large reason why agricultural policy has favored farmers over the course of United States history is because farmers tend to have favorable proportional political representation in government. The United States Senate tends to grant more power per person to inhabitants of rural states. Also, because the United States House of Representatives is re-apportioned only every 10 years by the United States Census, and population tends to shift from rural to urban areas, farmers are often left with greater proportional power until the re-apportionment is complete.

Political and economic dynamics

The percentage of Americans who live on a farm diminished from nearly 25% during the Great Depression to about 2% now,[3] and only 0.1% of the United States population works full-time on a farm. As the agribusiness lobby grows to near $60 million per year,[4] the interests of agricultural corporations remain highly represented. In recent years, farm subsidies have remained high even in times of record farm profits.[5]

Beginning with the administration of Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace, the United States had generally moved to curb overproduction. However, in the early 1970s, under Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz, farmers were encouraged to "get big or get out" and to plant "hedgerow to hedgerow". Over the course of the 20th century, farms have consolidated into larger, more capital-intensive operations and subsidy policy under Butz encouraged these large farms at the expense of small and medium-sized family farms.[2]


During this time, agricultural financial support also increased, through raised price supports, export subsidies, increased crop insurance (1938 Agricultural Adjustment Act), expanding price supports to different crops(Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000), offering more guaranteed federal loans, and through the replacement of some price supports with fixed payments (Food and Agricultural Act of 1962 and Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996).

Over time, a variety of related topics began to be addressed by agricultural policy: Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990).

Increased comprehensiveness

Out of these bills grew a system of government-controlled agricultural commodity prices and government supply control (farmers being paid to leave land unused). Supply control would continue to be used to decrease overproduction, leading to over 50,000,000 acres (200,000 km2) to be set aside during times of low commodity prices (1955–1973, 1984–1995). The practice was eventually ended by the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996.

Beginning with the 1921 Packers and Stockyards Act and 1922 Capper-Volstead Act, which regulated livestock and protected farmer cooperatives against anti-trust suits, United States agricultural policy began to become more and more comprehensive. In reaction to falling grain prices and the widespread economic turmoil of the Dust Bowl(1931-39) and Great Depression(October 1929-33), three bills led the United States into permanent price subsidies for farmers: the 1922 Grain Futures Act, the June 1929 Agricultural Marketing Act, and finally the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act- the first comprehensive food policy legislation.

At the end of World War I, the destructive effects of the war and the surrender burdens enforced on the Central Powers of Europe bankrupted much of Europe, closing major export markets in the United States and beginning a series of events that would lead to the development of agricultural price and income support policies. United States price and income support, known otherwise as agricultural subsidy, grew out of acute farm income and financial crises, which led to widespread political beliefs that the market system was not adequately rewarding farm people for their agricultural commodities.

Beginning of price supports


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.