Agriculture progresses through four stages of policy: traditional, developing, maturing, and modern. The third or maturing stage of sizeable transfers from taxpayers and consumers to farmers is described at length an 10 implications drawn for the United States and other countries. Among the lessons learned are that government commodity programs once initiated contain much momentum for continuation; that benefits of programs accrue disproportionately to the least disadvantaged among those eligible; that markets work for farm commodities because goods are rival, exclusionary, and transparent; that agricultural market forces are difficult to circumvent; that the least competitive traditional farm commodities are most likely to seek and receive government help; that multilateral trade reform has not been very effective in liberalizing farm trade; that American farm policy has been heavily influenced by populist myths; that economic analysis matters; and that direct payments targeted solely to small farms are essential but politically infeasible to save small farms.


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