A Safety Net for Farm Households

Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER-788) 37 pp, October 2000

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by Craig Gundersen, Mitch Morehart, Leslie Whitener, Linda M. Ghelfi , James Johnson, Betsey Kuhn, Ashok K. Mishra, Susan Offutt, and Laura Tiehen

Discussions in the public arena have raised fundamental questions about the ultimate goals of farm policy and the need for establishing a safety net for farm households. This report examines four scenarios for government assistance to agriculture based on the concept of ensuring some minimum standard of living. Lower income farmers would benefit relatively more from the safety net scenarios, while farmers producing selected commodities benefit relatively more from current farm programs. Farm households in the Northern Crescent, the Eastern Uplands, the Southern Seaboard, and the Fruitful Rim all would generally receive a higher level and a greater proportion of benefits than under current programs. A clear understanding of objectives and intended beneficiaries must be the starting point for discussions of future farm policy.

Keywords: safety net, poverty, assistance programs, farm policy, farm households

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