NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Agricultural Reforms A Success

December 22, 1997

At the end of a full crop year, the "Freedom to Farm" law is being hailed as a success comparable to last year's welfare reform. Farmers took advantage of greater freedom by sowing more land and shifting to more profitable crops in 1997.

  • Discarding rules in place since the New Deal, the law ended most limits on which crops farmers could grow -- although it continued to guarantee payments at two-thirds of past levels.
  • Reimbursements are estimated to total $36 billion through 2002.
  • Net cash farm income was forecast to swell to $54.7 billion this year -- well above levels of the early 1990s.
  • Agriculture Department analysts say planting flexibility probably boosted soybean acreage by 4 million to 6 million acres this year -- allowing farmers to harvest a record 2.7 billion bushels.

President Clinton, after three veto threats, reluctantly signed the "Freedom to Farm Act" in April 1996. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman has admitted that the law has worked out well for most farmers. But he claims it has not helped all farmers and wants more of a safety net in the event of a price plunge for crops or a crop disaster.

Source: Reuters, "'Freedom to Farm' Hailed as a Success," Washington Times, December 22, 1997.


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