The Evolution and Implications of the U.S. Food Security Act of 1985

The Food Security Act of 1985 sets the United States (U.S.) policy course for the five years, 1986-1990, in the areas of farm product prices and farmer incomes, agricultural production, food aid, and trade in agricultural products. It is clearly an evolution of past policy, deeply rooted in the institutional processes of participatory policymaking. The Act will have important implications for not only domestic producers, consumers, agribusinesses, and taxpayers, but also product agricultural exporters and importers around the world. Just as it was substantially. affected by the current loss of export markets and the economic crisis in the U.S. agricultural sector, its implementation and impacts will be affected in the future by the unpredictable weather, macroeconomic conditions around the world, and international trading policies. This article examines the development of the policy embodied in the Act and analyzes its primary economic implications. Although most provisions of the U.S. agricultural price and income policy that had evolved over the past half century were continued, important changes were made. The resulting policy closely mirrored the preferences revealed from research concerning farmers and leaders of national agricultural and food interest groups. Primary changes from the previous 1981 Act were: lengthening the duration to five years; substantial lowering of the minimum price support levels; permitting a gradual decline in the minimum target prices; providing for a whole dairy herd buyout program; establishing export enhancement initiatives through credit, promotion, and export payment-in-kind (PIK); and initiating major efforts to increase farmland conservation and withdrawal of fragile lands from production. Likely implications of the new Act include: (1) lower product prices for agricultural producers around the world, and also farmer incomes if there is no income protection from national policies; (2) a similar but a less proportionate impact on consumers; (3) a substantial burden on the U.S. Treasury, and possibly those of the other nations as well, depending upon the type of policies followed; and ( 4) likely intensification in the immediate future of the economic conflicts and negotiations between major agricultural trading nations of the world. Research played a vital role in the development of the U.S. 1985 Act. Given the turbulent, uncertain, and important nature of the agricultural and food sector in the world, research is challenged to provide more and better knowledge for future policymaking

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Journal Article
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Agricultural Economics: The Journal of the International Association of Agricultural Economists, Volume 01, Issue 2
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-27

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