US agricultural policy in disarray

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Event Summary

On Friday, some of the foremost experts in agricultural policy met at AEI to discuss the deficiencies of current US farm policy and potential improvements. AEI’s Joseph W. Glauber gave a comprehensive overview of the current state of the US farm economy. He argued that the industry is quite strong, which militates against the argument that farm programs aid an industry in need of financial assistance.

North Carolina State’s Barry Goodwin added that measures of wealth paint an even more positive picture of the farm industry’s financial position. He compared the Title I farm programs and highlighted current policy questions in the farm program debate.

AEI’s Vincent Smith drew on Dr. Glauber’s and Dr. Goodwin’s conclusions to indict the US crop insurance program. Per Dr. Smith, the federal crop insurance is poor policy by any reasonable standard: It has adverse environmental and trade-relations consequences, encourages wasteful business practices, wastes billions in scarce funds, and overwhelmingly subsidizes financially well-positioned, large-scale farms.

Daniel Sumner of the University of California, Davis, agreed that all the reasons typically proffered by the farm lobby collapse under scrutiny: Subsidies fail to enhance innovation, strengthen the industry, or effectively insure against natural variability in commodity prices.

–Spencer Slagowitz

Event Description

What is the current financial situation of the American farm sector? In a new AEI paper series titled “Agricultural Policy in Disarray,” leading agricultural economists evaluate how farm programs affect farm incomes, US food security, rural communities and poverty, the environment, and US trade relations. The papers explore how farm-oriented programs authorized by the current farm bill funnel federal funds to households with above-average incomes and how such programs incentivize farms to operate in ways that waste economic resources.

Join AEI for a discussion on substantive reforms to US agricultural subsidy programs in the next farm bill. Leading agricultural economists will present the first three papers in this series, covering reforms to the direct farm subsidy program and crop insurance. The authors will also preview the forthcoming papers in the series.

Join the conversation on social media by following @AEI and @AEIecon on Twitter and Facebook.


Agenda

1:15 PM
Registration

1:30 PM
Introduction:
Vincent H. Smith, AEI

1:35 PM
Panel discussion

Participants:
Joseph W. Glauber, International Food Policy Research Institute
Barry Goodwin, North Carolina State University
Vincent H. Smith, AEI
Daniel Sumner, University of California, Davis

Moderator:
Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group

2:15 PM
Q&A

2:30 PM


Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Ryan Nabil at [email protected], 202.419.5204.


Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829


Scott Faber works at Environmental Working Group (EWG), where he leads a team working to improve food and farm legislation, chemicals policy, and other issues. Before joining EWG, he was vice president for federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, where he spearheaded efforts to enact the Food Safety Modernization Act, which set new food safety standards for food manufacturers and farmers. From 2000 to 2007, he was a food and farm policy campaign manager for the Environmental Defense Fund, leading efforts to reform farm policies in the 2002 and 2008 farm bills. From 1993 to 2000, Mr. Faber was a senior director for public policy for American Rivers. He holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Joseph W. Glauber is a visiting fellow at AEI, where he focuses on general agricultural policy including the farm bill, crop insurance, and agricultural subsidies. He is also a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. Dr. Glauber spent more than 30 years at the US Department of Agriculture, where he served as the department’s chief economist from 2008 to 2014, and was chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation. In 2012, he was elected fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. He has also served as the special Doha agricultural envoy in the Office of the US Trade Representative and was the chief agricultural negotiator for the Doha talks. In addition, he served as an economic adviser to the Blair House agreements, which led to the completion of the Uruguay Round negotiations. The author of numerous studies on crop insurance, disaster policy, and US farm policy, Dr. Glauber has been widely published in academic journals including the Agricultural Finance Review, Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Contemporary Economic Policy, and the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Dr. Glauber received his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin and holds an A.B. in anthropology from the University of Chicago.

Barry Goodwin has devoted his career to teaching and research in the economics of agriculture. His research program has addressed a range of important issues in public policy analysis, international trade, crop insurance, economic history, and applied econometrics. He received his Ph.D. in economics at North Carolina State University. He also holds degrees from Troy State and Mississippi State University. He has held faculty positions at Kansas State University, the Ohio State University, and North Carolina State University, where he is currently William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Economics. Dr. Goodwin’s published research has received numerous awards and is widely cited in leading journals. He also occupies prominent positions on several citation indexes. While his research contributions are broad in scope, he has made especially important and lasting contributions in the areas of market integration, crop insurance, and the effects of farm programs on farm-level decisions. Policymakers have used his research in constructing and evaluating crop insurance programs and in international trade negotiations.

Vincent H. Smith is professor of economics in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University and a visiting scholar at AEI, where he directs AEI’s agricultural policy research program. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Manchester and his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. His current research program examines agricultural trade and domestic policy issues, with a particular focus on agricultural, domestic, and trade policy; risk management; agricultural science policy; and domestic and world commodity markets. Dr. Smith is the recipient of numerous awards for outstanding research and education and is a distinguished scholar of the Western Agricultural Economics Association. In 2011 he received the US Department of Agriculture Bruce Gardner Award for his outstanding contributions to the economic analysis of agricultural policy.

Daniel 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. He participates in research, teaches, and directs an outreach program related to public issues facing agriculture. He has published broadly in academic journals, books, and industry outlets. His research and writing focuses particularly on the consequences of farm and trade policy on agriculture and the economy. From 1978 to 1992, Dr. Sumner was a professor in the Division of Economics and Business at North Carolina State University. He spent much of the period after 1986 on leave for government service in Washington, DC. During 1987–88 he was a senior economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and was deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Agriculture from 1990 to 1992. He received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural management from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in 1971, a master’s degree from Michigan State in 1973, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago in 1978.

 

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