January 20, 2011
A new study, to be presented at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association 2011 Annual Meeting in February, finds that taxpayers believe that less money should be spent on direct payments, price supports, and crop insurance, while more should be directed toward food safety, natural resource conservation, research and education, and rural development. The paper was authored by Brenna Ellison and Jayson Lusk of Oklahoma State University and Brian Briggeman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
Decreases in Funding
Individuals responding to the study survey would decrease by 4.1-6.2 percent the amount of money allocated for farm support programs such as direct payments, price supports, and crop insurance. In addition to commodity support programs, respondents would cut food and nutrition assistance by 31-40 percent (it currently receives 60 percent of USDA spending).
Increases in Funding
Respondents would allocate 24.7-30.1 percent of USDA’s budget for food safety (21.6-26.9 percent more than is currently allocated), 11.6-13.1 percent for natural resource conservation (3.3-4.8 percent more than is currently allocated), 9.0-11.4 percent for education and extension (6.1-8.5 percent more than is currently allocated), and 8.3-9.1 percent for rural development (5.1-5.9 percent more than is currently allocated).
According to the authors, “over 50% of respondents believe food safety and inspection is the most important budget category.” Furthermore, those surveyed “are generally willing to give up farm support to have more of the benefits and services provided by expenditures on natural resources and environment, research and education, and rural development” (pp. 13).
The study’s findings are clearly summarized in a set of tables at the end of the paper.