U.S. Agricultural Policy: Impacts on Domestic and International Food Security


Vincent H. Smith, Joseph W. Glauber


Frontiers of Economics and Globalization


In the United States, successive farm bills and the 2007 Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) have largely defined domestic subsidy and conservation programs and U.S. food-aid initiatives over the past decade. This chapter examines the effects of the current mixture of U.S. agricultural policies and international food-aid programs on domestic and global food-insecure populations. A detailed research-based examination is carried out with respect to the impacts of U.S. subsidy programs on agricultural production, domestic and global agricultural commodity prices, and their implications for food-insecure populations. The impacts of the RFS are assessed along with the effects of current and potentially reformed U.S. international food-aid programs. This study concludes that current U.S. agricultural subsidy programs have small or negligible impacts on the aggregate level and mixture of U.S. agricultural output, U.S. domestic prices and global prices, and domestic and global food insecurity among poor households. The RFS has increased prices for food and feed grain and oilseeds with adverse implications for the urban poor in developing countries and some poor U.S. households. The portfolios of U.S. food-aid programs are managed inefficiently because of congressional mandates designed to aid special interest groups that waste 30% of the current budget. While U.S. subsidy programs likely should be moderated for other reasons, they have few impacts on domestic and globally food-insecure households. However, in relation to global and domestic food insecurity, the RFS should be discontinued and major reforms to U.S. international food aid implemented.



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