Harvest partner Joe Glauber of IFPRI co-authored a new book, Agricultural Policy in Disarray. A timely book in light of the new Farm Bill, the authors assert that agricultural policy in the United States is highly chaotic. Persistent lobbying pushes by interest groups result in complex and often internally inconsistent initiatives that make up the complicated mix of federal agricultural programs.
In this two-volume examination of US agricultural policies, the authors analyze direct subsidy initiatives and the heavily subsidized federal crop insurance program, the long-standing sugar program and federal marketing orders that variously rely on import restrictions, constraints on domestic production, and policy-mandated price discrimination among alternative markets for the same product.
Those subsidy programs and other forms of support are deliberately structured to funnel the vast majority of their benefits to large farm businesses and, in the case of agricultural insurance, an entire segment of the insurance industry that would not otherwise exist. They do nothing to alleviate rural poverty and in most cases encourage farm and other agricultural businesses to waste some of society’s scarce resources.
Some federal programs do provide benefits for society as a whole. However, collusion among lobbies with competing interests has caused many of those programs to be inefficient. The authors of “Agricultural Policy in Disarray” recommend termination or reform of these ineffective government policies. Watch the video below to view the book launch Q & A.