What Are the Pros and Cons of Agricultural Subsidies?

Farm subsidies provide extra income to farmers depending on what crops they produce, and are often used to help rejuvenate farmland. In some cases, income is provided for producing no crops at all. The farm subsidy bill costs taxpayers in excess of $35 billion annually, as of 2014.

The farm subsidy bill was originally designed to help alleviate poverty among American farmers during The Great Depression. In addition to that goal, the farm subsidy bill has been expanded to reward farmers for practices that help ensure the long-term fertility and productivity of the land they use. The government pays the farmer a subsidy to allow a field to lie fallow, or to rest, for a year. By allowing a field to produce no crops for a year the field has a chance to naturally replenish nutrients that are depleted by farming.

The problem with the farm subsidies is that they ask Americans to pay farmers to produce nothing. When the subsidy program was first enacted it solved a problem, since many farmers earned considerably lower incomes than the urban population. As of 2014, farmers have an income that is well above the national average. Farmers also enjoy property values several times greater than the national average.