The FAIR Act of 1996, also known as the Freedom to Farm Act (ACT) dismantled many of the agriculture policy tools in use for the last 25 years. Gone were target prices, deficiency payments, and set asides. In their place were expanded marketing loan programs to effectively include wheat and feed grains and oilseeds in addition to cotton and rice. Full planting flexibility has been popular with farmers who are no longer constrained by base acres. Grain merchants and other volume oriented agribusinesses praise the elimination of set asides. The sharp decline in farm prices for all major program commodities since 1996 has left most farmers questioning the income safety net provisions of the FAIR Act. The flexibility and marketing loan provisions continue to be praised. Farm program changes in the 1996 farm bill rendered methods of crop supply response estimation based on econometric models, using historic data, difficult at best. Yet it can, and has been, hypothesized that the Act resulted in major shifts in regional crop production patterns. This paper draws inferences from changes in acres planted among crops for representative farms in the Texas A&M Agricultural and Food Policy Center’s (AFPC) farm data base. AFPC has maintained longitudinal data for more than three dozen representative crop farms across states, regions, farm size, and type of farm since 1990. The farms were updated in 1999 as to their crop mix changes following the ACT and the crop mix changes observed in the updates are summarized here. United States aggregate production shifts are identified from NASS data. Implications for future potential acreage changes are identified. The commodity focus includes feedgrains, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice.


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