Agricultural Subsidies and Development

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Submitted By himalahari
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Agricultural Subsidies and Development For decades the rich countries of the developed world have lavished subsidies on their farmers, typically guaranteeing them a minimum price for the products they produce. The aim has been to protect farmers in the developed world from the potentially devastating effects of low commodity prices. Although they are small in numbers, farmers tend to be politically active, and winning their support is important for many politicians. The politicians often claim that their motive is to preserve a historic rural lifestyle, and they see subsidies as a way of achieving that goal. This logic has resulted in financial support estimated to exceed $300 billion a year for farmers in rich nations. The European Union, for example, has set a minimum price for butter of 3,282 euros per ton. If the world price for butter falls below that amount, the EU will make up the difference to farmers in the form of a direct payment or subsidy. In total, EU dairy farmers receive roughly $15 billion a year in subsidies to produce milk and butter, or about $2 a day for every cow in the EU—a figure that is more than the daily income of half the world’s population. According to the OECD, overall EU farmers receive approximately $134 billion a year in subsidies. The EU is not alone in this practice. In the United States, a wide range of crop and dairy farmers receive subsidies. Typical is the guarantee that U.S. cotton farmers will receive at least $0.70 for every pound of cotton they harvest. If world cotton prices fall below this level, the government makes up the difference, writing a check to the farmers. Some 25,000 United States cotton farmers received some $3.4 billion in annual subsidy checks. Total agricultural subsidies in the United States amount to some $43 billion a year according to OECD figures. Japan is also a large subsidizer, providing some $47.4…...

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