U.S. farm support to explode in election year 2020

The U.S. has agreed on a $2 trillion stimulus package, the largest economic stimulus in its history, in response to the economic impacts of Covid-19. U.S. farm groups lobbied hard to be included in the package, and $23.5 billion was included in the final package for farm aid. This farm aid comes on top of the two trade aid packages of $12 billion and $16 billion introduced by the Trump Administration in 2018 and 2019, respectively, to provide relief to commodity producers hurt by the retaliatory tariffs introduced by various countries in response to tariffs on their exports to the U.S.

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The US farm safety net

In its most recent Farm Bill in 2014, the US eliminated its decoupled direct payments, in part because it was hard to justify making income support payments to farmers at a time when farm incomes were booming due to favourable prices. Instead, it substituted a new set of counter-cyclical payments as part of the US farm safety net. At the same time, it expanded the scope of its federal crop insurance programmes by introducing a new programme to cover ‘shallow losses’ not normally covered by these programmes.

These US developments have led some in Europe to argue that the CAP should move in the same direction.

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The US Farm Bill: Lessons for CAP Reform ?

The current CAP reform debate and the US Farm Bill debate have been taking place in parallel for several months. There are some interesting contrasts between the two procedures, which are explored in a note for the European Parliament. The note also describes the current situation of the Farm Bill negotiations, based on the proposals tabled by the Senate and by the Committee of Agriculture of the House of Representatives (not endorsed by the House as a whole, so far).
It is difficult to compare the proposed €370 billion for 7 years in the CAP (a crude estimate based on recent budget proposals) with some US$ 690 billion, i.e
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Food safety rules as protection or protectionism?

SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary standards) barriers figured prominently in the final Agricultural Council of 2008 under the French Presidency. Agricultural Ministers agreed Council Conclusions on the safety of imported agricultural and agri-food products and compliance with Community rules. At the same meeting, EU Farm Ministers rejected a Commission proposal to allow the use of antimicrobial substances to treat poultry carcasses, which would have re-opened the Community market to US imports. Is there a danger that food safety protection becomes an excuse for protectionism?

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US farmers want out of conservation, environmentalists resist

The current high prices for arable crops mean that farmers in the US and Europe are reconsidering whether putting their land into government-financed conservation schemes is such a good idea financially. The EU is well on the way to releasing all its set aside land back into production, and in the US Congress is considering whether to allow farmers to leave long term conservation contracts without facing any penalties.
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US House of Representatives passes ‘veto-proof’ Farm Bill

Dan Morgan of the Washington Post reports on the legislative passage of a 5-year US Farm Bill, with a sufficient majority in the House of Representatives (318:106) to override any Presidential veto. President Bush had previously threatened a veto unless the Farm Bill would set a new upper limit on the size of subsidy payments and avoid raising any new taxes. He looks to have been outmaneuvered.
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The mixed up world of US Senator Chuck Grassley

We all know that the legislators who write US farm policy are not the brightest bulbs in the box. Even so, Senator Chuck Grassley treated us to an unusual insight into his own very special, mixed-up world during a telephone press briefing last week, reported in the Des Moines Register. Asked about the contribution of the US Government’s massive food-to-fuel subsidies to rising world food prices and the resulting hunger, poverty and social unrest, Grassley denied there was any connection and suggested the responsibility lay with people in China eating too much meat.
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US Farm Bill goes to the wire

The US Congress has just 14 days in which to agree on a new farm bill able to secure the approval of the White House, and time is running out. If a farm bill is not passed by March 15th, then the so-called ‘permanent legislation’, the provisions of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 and the Agricultural Act of 1949, would again become legally effective. The implications of this happening have recently been analysed by the US Department of Agriculture and would have such a dramatic and perverse effect on US farm programmes that it is most unlikely that Congress would let it happen.
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Public supports 'consumer agenda' in farm policy

A new survey of public opinion released today by the German Marshall Fund of the United States shows strong support for ‘consumer agenda’ in EU and US agriculture policies focused on food safety, the environment and the food supply. There was significantly less support for producer-oriented priorities like providing emergency financial relief to farmers, insuring farmers against unpredictable market conditions and preserving small family farms.

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