Investments in farm policy are sound investments in our country’s – and our world’s – food security, national security and our ability to pass along a thriving rural America to the next generation.
The nation’s agricultural safety net helps protect a viable and prosperous rural economy. Totaling only 1/4 of 1 percent of the federal budget, this relatively small but wise investment is worth protecting for the benefit of farmers and consumers.
More than 21 million American jobs have their roots in the U.S. food and fiber industry – more than five times as many workers as the U.S. automotive manufacturing, sales and service sectors combined. Strong agriculture-related programs help keep rural economies going even in times of weather- or market-related disasters – and help keep Americans in rural and urban areas alike on the job.
NAWG understands these are tight times for all federal spending programs and agriculture is not exempt from being considered for budget cuts. It is with this understanding that we have been working with other agriculture commodity groups and trade associations to develop programs that will ensure that a stable and productive food supply remains in place for the American people.
Our top priorities with regards to mandatory agriculture spending in the federal budget include risk protection programs and conservation programs. More on these programs are at our risk management, farm policy and conservation pages.
Discretionary spending priorities include:
- Funding agricultural research programs that benefit growers and consumers over the long term. According to CAST, every $1 invested in agricultural research and extension generates about $32 in return.
- Continuing to invest in USDA foreign market development programs. A recent study of wheat promotion activities shows producer dollars, combined with MAP and FMD, return $115 to the economy for every $1 spent.
Key Facts About the Budget and Farm Policy
According to data from the Congressional Budget Office, of spending in the 2008 Farm Bill, only 16 percent is dedicated to the farm safety net, including crop insurance. More than 70 percent goes to food and nutrition programs like food stamps.
In fact, CBO data shows farm safety net funding has fallen sharply in the last decade, and it was slashed again in the 2008 Farm Bill by $7.4 billion. Today farm policy represents just one-quarter of 1 percent of the federal budget.
Compared to other major agricultural producers around the globe, the U.S. ranks near the bottom in terms of both direct assistance and tariff protections that help family farms survive and compete. For more about tariffs around the globe, see this Texas Tech study.
The reality is American consumers spend just 9.8 percent of their disposable income on food—less than any other country. When gasoline prices more than doubled in 2007 and 2008, food prices only increased by 5.1 percent, and only a small portion of this could be attributed to farm commodity prices.
NAWG is a member of The Hand That Feeds U.S., a communications coalition dedicated to helping people learn about farming today. We particularly recommend the fact sheets found in The Hand That Feeds U.S. press kit.
The Congressional Budget Office is considered the official arbitrer of what policy costs, so many people watch its publications closely. CBO’s agriculture publications website page is here.
The National Agricultural Law Center offers copies of agriculture-related reports prepared by the Congressional Research Service, Congress’ research arm and one of the best sources of nonpartisan policy information.