Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER-671) 8 pp

June 1993

Market-Oriented Agriculture: The Declining Role of Government Commodity Programs in Agricultural Production Decisions

The portion of U.S. agricultural production covered by government income support payments has declined over the span of the last two 5-year farm acts. Consequently, nongovernmental supply and demand factors (market forces) are becoming more important in influencing farmers' production decisions. This report illustrates how agricultural supply has moved toward greater reliance on market forces (market orientation) by examining the declining role of government commodity programs in production decisions for corn, wheat, rice, and upland cotton. Payment coverage ratios, which measure the percentage of expected production covered by deficiency payments (income support payments made by the Federal Government to producers of certain agricultural commodities), have decreased. Thus, the role of government commodity programs in influencing farmers' production decisions at both the individual farm and national (aggregate) levels has declined. As a result, the share of US. cropland on which planting decisions are made based on market signals has increased, a trend toward market orientation that began with the 1985 farm act and continued with 1990 farm legislation.

Keywords: Market orientation, commodity programs, production incentives, income support, supply response, corn, wheat, rice, upland cotton

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