For years, the crop subsidy limit has been $125,000 a year per farmer. Given a free hand on subsidies, Americans would keep the limit roughly the same, though they would give small family farms an extra bit of help, said a trio of analysts on Thursday.
Writing at the farmdoc daily blog, the analysts said their online survey of 1,000 American consumers found that roughly half of them believe large family farms, with gross cash farm income above $1 million a year, receive too much money from the government, while roughly six in 10 said small family farms get too little assistance. The beliefs were consistent across the ideological spectrum, from conservative to liberal.
“In the survey, we asked participants to indicate the maximum amount of government support that an individual farmer should be able to receive in a given year, from $0 to $250,000,” said analysts Jonathan Coppess and Maria Kalaitzandonakes of the University of Illinois and Brenna Ellison of Purdue University. “We find that respondents’ averages were close on payment limits, settling just above the statutory limit of $125,000.”
On average, respondents said large farms should receive a maximum of $133,649, medium-sized farms should get $135,339, and small farms should get $139,823.
“The results … reinforce the findings that the public generally favors or prioritizes assistance to smaller farms even though the differences in amounts were relatively small,” said the analysts.
“For Congress, these findings are relevant perspectives for policy decisions and priorities in a farm bill debate. To the extent that farm program payments and other farm assistance favors the largest farmers, the policy risks being out of step with the preferences and priorities of the general public, taxpayers, and voters,” they concluded.