Talk:Agricultural policy

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5/19 BIG edits[edit]

I started a big re-work of the article. I added a wiki-standard article, and tried to make other sections more closely conform to wiki style. Feco 22:17, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

I think the structure of the article is a lot better now... it has room for expansion in ag policy areas. There is still a lot of need for cleanup... some of the sections are long and rambling... I consolidated a lot of content w/out writing transitions or removing duplicated info... a cleanup with those goals in mind would be great. Feco 20:05, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

POV & First-Person[edit]

The opposition section reads like a political pamphlet, even employing the first person. While I am no expert in this particular field of economics, I would be happy to give that section a more dispassionate voice. Any objections? For the sake of transparency, I should note that my personal bias is against farm subsidies, but I came to this page looking for a strong argument in their favor.


Follow-up: Thank you, Orzetto. Your edit is definitely an improvement. I'm curious if anyone can add more to the pro section. I've heard the argument that subsidies can help avert crises along the lines of the '29 crash. I don't know how widely such theories are supported in academia, but since they seem to be floating around, I'd like to see someone treat them in the article. I'll try to do some research on the topic elsewhere. If I can find anything substantial, I might write something up.


Good edit. However, I don't know of any green economists who argue that local production of organic produce by families should be taxed or regulated at all, so the phrase "Some green economists" should probably read "Most green economists". Maybe these qualifications should probably just be spelled out...

Good point about agribusiness being the beneficiary of lax import / free trade rules. Link to family farm may be in order. Rules for rural land ownership typically affect both agricultral policy and family farms, perhaps that should be in an article on land reform, which some economists (e.g. de Soto, Joseph Stiglitz) see as essential.

Also, immigration policy in some developed nations has exceptions specifically to enable agricultural policy, e.g. migrant farm workers in Canada and the US. That should probably be mentioned.

Removed this. The United States has almost ended farm subsidies several times. It's back in, but it's far from clear that they will continue for the forseenable future. Also, the "since" clause is NPOV. Opponents to agricultural policy would argue that it will continue as long as there are rural voters.

Since agricultural produce is mostly traded and entirely priced on commodity markets, but presents special biosafety and biosecurity risks, not to mention being produced typically by the poorest segments of the population in developing nations, some such policy measures favoring local production and higher consumer prices to subsidize these larger goals will remain in place for the forseeable future.
You seem to be confusing 'agricultural policy' as a concept with the specific agricultural policy concept in place inthe US. If the US has a policy of zoning land for agricultural use or supporting loans to family farmers, then it has an agricultural policy, although it may not support that with outright cash subsidy.
The United States doesn't have any national policy of zoning agricultural land nor any national policy of supporting loans to family farmers. There are some cities which do have agricultural zoning ordinances, but given that they are local regulations which are neither coordinated nor universal, it's hard to term those "policy."
Also, the 'since' clause, if you read this, implies only that 'since' (a) food is traded on commodity markets (b) food presents special biosafety and biosecurity concerns (c) it is raised by poor people in developing nations, 'then' (z) it is hopelessly political and subsidies will continue. I don't see that as controversial, but if you do, then changing "will" to "will probably" or "subsidize" to "reflect" will NPOV the statement very nicely. Or else, you could add (d) rural voters have much power in democracies
The problem with this is that even the *probably* is subject to question within the United States. There are major consitutencies for agricultural subsdies but there are also major constituetncies against it.
European politics might be different.
If your position is that the NPOV is that (a), (b), (c) are disputable or don't matter politically, or that (d) is the deciding issue necessarily, I don't agree. Accordingly I can't see why you'd say the 'since' is not NPOV.
"Since" implies that a) b) c) are true. If you want to change them to "assuming that", that is a bit better.

A more substantive edit now includes all of the above points by both sides. Disputed claims were eliminated or put in context that makes them clearer. There is a lot to say on this issue. It probably won't be right on one pass. Thanks for helping.

Poorer Countries should take advantage of Farm Sub[edit]

I think developing countries should take advantage of farm subsidies instead of opposing them. In fact, cheaper farm imports and resources freed that were previously employed in farming can combine to produce powerful advantage. The savings from the above two factors can be good enough to move away from farm jobs. See my blog entry for more details.

haven't gone to your blog, but.... a developing country is usually the definition of poor, especially the central government. How would it pay farm subsidies to its own farmers? Feco 04:20, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

This isn't a forum. Address a point to the article or take it elsewhere. Rd232 06:57, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Scope of Article[edit]

Agricultural policy goes beyond subsidies, mabye this page should be moved to Agricultural subsidy or the scope of the article needs to be widened.--nixie 11:10, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

incorrect facts[edit]

whats this about a US rice farmer getting 1000000 over 5 years? 200,000 a year. each? I find that extraordinarily hard to believe. Also gdp of spain is 800 billion dollars according to world bank and EU budge agricultural subsidy is 40 billion euro. I dont know how much canadian cows are subsidised or how much milk cartons cost. All these were added by 5 feb 2004 Sandpiper 13:44, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Agreed, another part of agricultural policy is Phytosanitary regulations, these can greatly restrict the import of developing world produce to developed markets. Similarly, there should be more differentiation between the different types of trade barrier, for example quotas that link output to level of subsidy. Furthermore, more elabloration needs to occur on how subsides hurt the environment because the link production with funding. The price of land is pushed artifically high and many farmers/farm conglomerates use nonarable land to grow their crops.

Balance of content[edit]

There is a huge section titled subsidy and tiny ones headed price control and import barriers. Maybe no one knows much about these last two, but at least some of the polemic under subsidies ought to be spread about.Sandpiper 22:22, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Rearranged sections. Look much more balanced now, at least on word count.Sandpiper 01:11, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Split up with sections for objectives (good), arguments against (bad things), examples of schemes (technical description of how they work). Anyone know better how US subsidy sytem works, is there a page somewhere? Or Japan? Or any other country with a subsidy system?Sandpiper 22:29, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Remove the POV tag?[edit]

It seems that most of the original POV complaints have been addressed. Although the article still lacks detail on facts, it looks more balanced. Any objections to removing the NPOV tag? Feco 19:00, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

since nothing showed up here, I'll go ahead and remove the POV tag. Let's see what happens. Feco 8 July 2005 20:05 (UTC)

Arguments against...[edit]

I have a problem with suggested section headings arguments for.. and arguments against. While I am reasonably happy that the 'arguments against' are in fact what it says, I am not happy at describing the section 'arguments for' as such.

A number of things listed are aims and objectives which governments seek to carry out. To say that a certain aim is sought, is not to say that this aim is good. Saying that these are 'arguments for' implies that things in this section explain why agricultural policy is good. Economists might (and do) argue that self-sufficiency in food is an illusive aim and in practice does not confer a benefit. Well, the 'against' section makes this point about whether the policy really works. But the 'for' section is not exactly constructed to say why policies are good. Rather it goes through a list of the sorts of things which make up agricultural policy, good and bad. It does suggest that certain governments consider these aims desireable, but a neutral observer might not. Some of the policies indeed are contradictory...protected markets are likely to lead to expensive food. So inherently, what one government thinks is good, another thinks is bad.

So conceptually I see the sections as first one listing policies and reasoning for them, second containing criticisms. It may be that this scheme leaves an opening for a third section, but I don't see there is enough material to put in it. Rather there should be a rounded discussion in both sections so that all points are covered.Sandpiper 01:08, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

Arguments for...[edit]

Agricultural policy has a very long history. A lot of subsidies continue because lobbying groups have developed to maintain a subsidy that was implemented a long time ago to address a problem that no longer exists. This makes it kind of difficult to write an "argument for" section... We can speculate, I suppose, that subsidies to rice, cotton, and sugar originated after the civil war to buy political support from the southern states where these crops are grown. Is "bribing southern states not to secede" a legitimate "argument for"?

Don't give short shrift to the "food self sufficiency" argument. World war II wasn't all that long ago and long before there were weapons of mass destruction, cutting off a country's food supply was considered an extremely efficient means of killing off large amounts of your opponent's population. Millions of people in Russia starved to death.

Another self sufficiency argument: Look at North Korea, and how food aid is being used as a political tool to put external pressure on the North Korean regime. If you become reliant on food imports you make yourself vulnerable to foreign government manipulation of your food supply for political reasons. The United States tried this on the USSR in the seventies with the grain embargo, although it failed miserably (USSR just imported wheat from other sources).

I wouldn't be surprised if basically all countries that use "self sufficiency" as an argument have been invaded in the last century.

Developing Countries Actually Gain from US Ag Subsidies[edit]

An important, but almost universally overlooked, result of US subsidies is that most developing countries actually benefit, on aggregate. As section 3.1 points out, developing countries are importing cheap food from developed coutries. Consequently, most of the population is consuming cheaper food than if there were no US subsidies. Of course there are still distributional issues. If you care more about the rural poor than the urban poor, the argument against subsidies stands. But on aggregate, for a vast majority of developing coutries, the gains from cheap food outweigh the loss to displaced farmers. In other words, the beneficiaries (presumably urban households) could theoretically compensate the losers (presumably rural households, but not necessarily) and still come out a head. There has been serious research on this subject. I can point out the working papers by various economists (NBER, UMD) if necessary.

>In the short run countries may benefit from cheaper food prices but in the long run the drawbacks begin to catch up. The more foreign food brought into the country will lower the price further. Lower prices will force more local farmers out of business until the country is completely reliant upon foreign food to sustain the country. At which point importers gain leverage. At any point foreign food could be pulled ie war, new WTO negotiations, natural resource prices like oil, etc. Any number of things would leave the country completely helpless but to pay higher prices than before. Less Supply --> Higher prices in the long run. It's been suggested the United States to stop producing food completely. Explaining "the US producing food is like a doctor working at a walmart cashier, it's highly inefficient. It doesn't matter, because we'd never trust another country with all our food production.

-will h.

Interesting point: The 2007-2011 period of high food prices was predicted to lead to sharp increased world wide malnutrition, also in regions with normal rain, based on an economic model that supposed low elastic response of small rural farmers. (as USDA and World Bank always suppose in their economic models.) In the real world, malnutrition went DOWN, because small farmers quickly reacted to lower food imports resulting from high world prices, by increasing their output and earning much more money on local and regional markets as they had done in decades. I saw it happening with my own eyes in this period in Ethiopia, Somalia and Congo.Pieter Felix Smit (talk) 08:33, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Economic model makers have since become silent about their predictions of the poor needing low prices. Reality proves, the opposit is true. (rural poverty is always deeper then urban poverty, show all UN and World Bank urban - rural household surveys, with a reliable long term prove in the length per age statistics for children, showing rural children to have been subjects to much longer and more severe periods of stunting then urban ones)Pieter Felix Smit (talk) 08:33, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Agricultural subsidy now separate[edit] 12:32, 23 August 2005 (UTC): FYI, Agricultural subsidy is now a separate article, allowing this article to focus on the broader topic. A minimal version exists, with the only country-specific section so far being for the U.S., so contributions are encouraged.

Thomas Jefferson Quote[edit]

"This is why Thomas Jefferson said that the best thing you can do for your country is to grow a new crop species."

If you can give me the source of this quote, I'd greatly appreciate it.


This article still reads too much like an arguement against certain policy than a presentation of what the topic. The facts are too selective and small scale. I don't know anything about this particular topic and don't have much of an opinion which is why I turned to it. I didn't feel like I was reading an economics text book on what agricultural policy is and the methods employed by governments but the negative effects of certain policies and what some alternatives may be most fo which I see at the green festival every year in S.F. (that right there gives away my political views). So while I may support most of the suggested policies I don't feel like I learned anything in this article and therefore it is in no way up to the standards or objectives of WIkipedia. Most of the alternatives need to be presented in a separate article say "alternatives to modern agricultural policy" with a hotlink and a short blurb on how current/modern policy is disputed. Which brings me to the final point. This article lacks hotlinks and does not try to extend to the reader how "agricultural policy" fits into the larger structure of general economics and wikipedia's economics category. It needs to quote specific economic theory, arguements/counterarguements so that the reader may learn the economics of agricultural policy, which is what this article should be all about. Sry if this came off as a rant in any way. 3/9/2007

Bio-security does not belong in this article..[edit]

Bio-security is about the potential risk to humans of animal diseases. This should have nothing to do with agricultural policy, unless one wants to abuse the argument to keep out competition. The prominence and wording of the Bio-security argument in this wiki-article shows how intensely the argument is abused to reduce competition from non-western countries. The reason is that most other policies in meat markets are not allowed by WTO, or they are very expensive.

If one compares what the medical handbooks (Manson's Tropical Diseases, Gordon Cook) have to say about this subject, with what the departments of agriculture of EU and US say, one realizes that much of agricultural 'knowledge' on this subject is little more scare mongering. The rules were designed in the 1960, when there were no rapid tests nor awareness, nor fast means of communication in poor countries with such diseases. Since it has been proven that outbreaks in the rich world are 90 % the result of farmers, transporters and industry in the rich world, dodging the rules, sometimes deliberately to generate government assistance.

Still today, there is a total meat import ban for 3/4 of African countries' meat, not based on realistic assessments about health risks from a well controlled export quarantine system, but purely based on 1960's rules being kept up only to protect farmers in the rich world. The rules were always set by an independent body (OIE) but since they judged meat import rules should be relaxed, EU and US-DA put up their own rules. There are at least one, probably more animal diseases on the A-list that have become totally extinct in Africa. All other diseases are locally or regional, and well recognized, and quickly communicated by the community of cattle rangers. But nobody can prove that up to the standards demanded by EU-US.

Each earoplane landing from an import ban country, imports about 50 kg of meat from that country in the luggage, meals and pockets of its passengers. Billions of animals each year fly, or hitch-hike with ships from such countries to the rich world. Any disease that is dangerous to humans, can also be imported in live human bodies. If there is a need for a total meat ban on all these countries, then there should also be a need for any person or ship or airplane moving from such a country to the rich world.

The dangers from a well organized frozen meat trade with such countries, are microscopic, compared to these risks of live birds and humans flying up and down in their billions.

If anyone wants prove about the ability of Africa exporting safe meat: 12 years ago, Somalia exported a deadly disease with live camels to Saudi-Arabia. This export line uses thousands of small vessels with live animals, so this is by far the most dangerous animal export line in the world. Since then the Saudi's and Somali's took a handful of simple measures, export resumed, and never again any desease was transmitted through this export line.

If Somalia can today safely export live animals over a short distance in dirty ships, then surely Africa can safely export all their meat through industrial quarantine, slaughter and freeze plants.

I seriously propose the Bio-hazard chapter is discussed under the header of The use of propaganda in agricultural policy — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pieter Felix Smit (talkcontribs) 09:14, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Food Security[edit]

I would like to add a section on agricultural policy pertaining to food security, taking into account issues of climate change and sustainable development. Does that sound like something that would be relevant to this article? New editor, comments appreciated. Thanks. C.peterson32 (talk) 15:17, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

Went ahead and added it - does it seem ok? Thanks! C.peterson32 (talk) 20:48, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

Article expansion[edit]

I have noticed that there are some sections of this article which could use expansion, such as the sections under objectives of market intervention. Particularly environmental protection and land management. One good place to start may be looking at Farmland protection in rapidly developing urban settings such as the King County Farmland Preservation Program, which protects farmland around the Seattle metro area. The protection of this land helps to preserve much of king county’s wildlife habitats, farmers lively hoods, some very fertile soil, and helps prevent food desertification. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fearsomecritters (talkcontribs) 04:51, 3 February 2016 (UTC)

Dr. Mabiso's comment on this article[edit]

Dr. Mabiso has reviewed this Wikipedia page, and provided us with the following comments to improve its quality:

The article has figures that lack citations/references. It does not deal in more depth with issues of agricultural policy processes - how the agricultural policies are made and the political economy of agriculture. Moreover, it fails to discuss the evolution of the study of agricultural policy and the policy analysis tools that can be used to evaluate effectiveness of agricultural policies.

We hope Wikipedians on this talk page can take advantage of these comments and improve the quality of the article accordingly.

Dr. Mabiso has published scholarly research which seems to be relevant to this Wikipedia article:

  • Reference : Diao, Xinshen & Kennedy, Adam & Badiane, Ousmane & Cossar, Frances & Dorosh, Paul & Ecker, Olivier & Hagos, Hosaena Ghebru & Headey, Derek & Mabiso, Athur & Makombe, Tsitsi & Malek, Mehrab & Schmidt, , 2013. "Evidence on key policies for African agricultural growth:," IFPRI discussion papers 1242, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

ExpertIdeasBot (talk) 15:49, 19 May 2016 (UTC)

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