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Data Show There Is No Farm Crisis—and No Reason to Consider More Subsidies

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There is no evidence of a major farm crisis and no reason, on that basis, for legislators to give farmers even more financial aid.

By Joseph W. Glauber and Vincent H. Smith                                               @fee.org

he plight of American farmers always makes for good copy, even when the facts don’t match the rhetoric. And when Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, as well as media reports, suggest that farmers are about to face a financial crisis based on cherry-picked data, farm interest groups rush to Congress to ask for more subsidies on top of the $20 billion a year already being given to crop growers.

If the debate over the 2018 farm bill is any guide, farm interest groups today are quite comfortable using similarly hyped information about farm bankruptcies to support their pro-subsidies arguments. Indeed, groups representing corn-, soybean-, wheat-, pulse-, and cotton-growers have all complained of inadequate subsidies in recent months. A broader look at the data, however, shows farmers aren’t facing a crisis, and there is no obvious need for taxpayers to give them more subsidies.

These comparisons distort the truth.

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