A look back at key statistics 30 years ago show how things have changed for American farmers. In addition to near-record farm income, farm wealth today is at record levels. Farm asset values—which reflect farm investors’ and lenders’ expectations about long-term profitability of farm sector investments—rose nearly 7% in 2012 to a record $2,540 billion for a fourth consecutive year of gains. We’ve come a long way.
THEN: In the 1980s, administration seeks to cut farm spending and payment limits are born. Programs include the Acreage Reduction Program, Payment in Kind, Conservation Reserve Program, Dairy Herd Buyout and Export Enhancement Program. Boll weevil eradication programs are introduced. Crop insurance comes of age.
NOW: Congress debates a farm bill that would abolish direct payments, counter-cyclical payments and the Average Crop Revenue Election program (ACRE). In their place: the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program and a "shallow-loss" program; the rest would be left up to crop insurance.