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Abstract

Diverse needs and preferences across the United States provide justification for the devolution, or decentralization, of many Federal Government programs to the State or local level. The move toward devolution, however, has not been evidenced in U.S. agricultural policy, despite significant differences across States in such areas as commodity production, production costs, income distribution, and opportunities for off-farm work. The existing structure of USDA funding and program delivery already reflects an appreciation of the gains from devolution, with some programs accommodating differences in State and regional preferences. This report considers the implications of devolving $22 billion in 2003 budget outlays, mostly for domestic commodity and natural resource programs and rural development and housing programs. The local knowledge of needs and references is valuable and can provide the basis for increased program efficiency.

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