Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-103) 23 pp

November 2012

Potential Farm-Level Effects of Eliminating Direct Payments

Since 2003, direct payments have accounted for a significant portion of farm program payments. If direct payments were eliminated, many agricultural producers would be affected, both through the loss of income and potential declines in land values and rental rates. This report considers the potential contribution of direct payments to farm revenues and land values across farm commodities and regions and estimates the magnitude of the financial impact on participating farms should direct payments be eliminated. Direct payments are highest relative to crop revenues in parts of the Northern Plains, Southern Plains, Mountain, Delta, and Southeast regions, and the estimated effect of direct payments on cropland values also is relatively high in many of these regions. Overall, our analysis suggests that an abrupt end to the direct payment program could reduce the number of farms with a favorable financial status (profitable farms having relatively low debt burdens) by about 11,000 nationally, or about 2 percent of farms that received direct payments in 2009. The estimated effect varies regionally and is more pronounced in the Delta and Southeast regions, where direct payments per farm tend to be higher, on average, than elsewhere.

Keywords: direct payments, farm policy, farmland values, Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), base acres, cropland value, farm financial characteristics

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