1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
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The government spends $5 billion annually on programs that take farmland out of production or pay farmers to use their land in a more environmentally sensitive way. Tomislav Vukina of North Carolina State University will argue that these conservation programs should be combined with Title I programs and environmental externalities should be combated through direct regulations. Internationally, agriculture exports reached $97 billion in 2009. Daniel Sumner of the University of California–Davis will discuss the adverse effects of current US trade and domestic policies on the global poor.
TOMISLAV VUKINA, North Carolina State University
DANIEL A. SUMNER, University of California-Davis
SALLIE JAMES, Cato Institute
VINCENT H. SMITH, Montana State University
Question and Answer
WASHINGTON, JULY 13, 2011--Reforming agricultural conservation programs and trade barriers and increasing research and development will bring economic gains to the United States and the developing world, a panel of experts concluded Wednesday. In the third event of the American Enterprise Institute's "American Boondoggle: Fixing the 2012 Farm Bill" series, Tomislav Vukina of North Carolina State University outlined two main conservation proposals: consolidating land-retirement programs and working-land programs and combining all Title II farm programs with all conservation programs. Both proposals would provide cost-effective incentives to reduce environmental damage. Vukina emphasized that agriculture should be treated as any other polluting industry and thus should not be exempt from environmental regulation. Daniel A. Sumner from the University of California-Davis then discussed how the United States is losing sight of its traditions as a free-market economy with subsidy policies that safeguard protectionism. Sumner explained that countercyclical US agricultural policies are cyclical for the rest of the world and therefore increase global price volatility, especially in poorer developing countries. He said that while agricultural subsidies cause economic harm, research and development funded by federal and state governments can result in large long-run gains. Vukina agreed with Sumner, concluding that benefits from research and development are shared by consumers and producers globally. Sallie James of the Cato institute echoed Sumner's view that food-aid policies should be eliminated completely from the Farm Bill and agreed that unrestricted trade policies maximize international economic benefits. Policy changes such as combining subsidy programs, reducing trade barriers, and increasing research and development will make the US agricultural industry more economically efficient.
Tomislav Vukina is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University. His research fields include the economic organization of agriculture, the economics of incentives and information, and environmental and resource economics. His research has been published in such journals as the Review of Agricultural Economics, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, and the Agricultural and Resource Economics Review.
Daniel A. Sumner is the Frank H. Buck Jr. Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California-Davis and the director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center. Formerly, he served as the assistant secretary for economics at the US Department of Agriculture. His research is primarily concerned with the economic and agricultural consequences of farm and trade policy.
Sallie James is a policy analyst with the Cato Institute's Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies. She writes and speaks on various trade topics, with a research emphasis on agricultural trade policy. Before joining Cato in 2006, Ms. James was an executive officer in the Office of Trade Negotiations in the Australian government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, working on industrial market access negotiations. Her articles have been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Orange County Register, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and other American newspapers, as well as the Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the European Review of Agricultural Economics. Ms. James has appeared on BBC World, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, Bloomberg TV, NPR, and other TV and radio outlets.
Vincent H. Smith is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and codirector of the Agricultural Marketing Policy Center at Montana State University. He also serves as a consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on risk-management issues, to the International Institute for Agricultural Risk Management on international risk and insurance and trade policy issues, and to the US Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency. His fields of interest include domestic and international agricultural commodity policy, agricultural risk management policy, and agricultural science and technology policy.