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Abstract

Producer and other interest groups are beginning to consider farm policy positions in anticipation of hearings and possible serious farm bill debates during late 2006 and 2007. An idea gaining attention and support among some groups is deemphasizing or eliminating the current commodity "price" programs (loan deficiency payments and counter-cyclical payments) and replacing them with programs based on "revenue insurance" designs. Suggested designs include a multi-tiered farm payment program based on individual revenue guarantees and shortfalls in county revenue. Another example of such an alternative design is a whole-farm revenue design that issues program payments when adjusted gross farm revenue falls below a historical five-year baseline. Interestingly, programs quite similar to both proposals have been offered by USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) since 1999 as part of the federal crop insurance program. In this paper, we evaluate the implications of using revenue-based designs as the primary U.S. farm support program. Our analysis considers implementation issues, distributional effects of such a change, and implications for compliance with WTO rules.

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