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U.S. Farm Policy and Small Farms


  • Ahearn, Mary Clare
  • Effland, Anne


We begin with a brief comparison of the size distribution of US and EU-15 farms to provide the European audience a greater context to the US issues. The EU data are from the Farm Structures Survey and the US data are from USDA’s Agriculture Resource Management Survey (ARMS). We next address the reasons for the unexpected increase in the number of small farms in the US and the possible role of government policies. We draw on ARMS to provide the distribution of commodity and conservation payments by farm size. Although limits on payments to large farms have long been addressed by the periodic US Farm Acts, payments continue to be concentrated on large farms largely because of their historical ties to farm production. The most recent 2008 Farm Act included more provisions to target program participants based on the personal characteristics of the operators and to limit payments to individuals likely to be operating large farms.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahearn, Mary Clare & Effland, Anne, 2009. "U.S. Farm Policy and Small Farms," 111th Seminar, June 26-27, 2009, Canterbury, UK 52868, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:eaa111:52868

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    small farms; EU-US farm structure comparison; farm policy; payment distribution; Agricultural and Food Policy; Q12;

    JEL classification:

    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

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