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New Farm Bill Changes Government Support to Farm Sector

MU's FAPRI economists will report their findings to U.S. Congress

May 23, 2008

Story Contact:  Jennifer Faddis, (573) 882-6217,
Patrick Westhoff , 9573) 882-4647,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Despite a snag, the President lost his veto to an override from the House and Senate. The $290 billion Farm Bill will give larger subsidies to farmers and more food stamps to the poor among other things. Final action on the complete package will have to wait until Congress returns to Washington D.C. from Memorial Day recess. Economists with the University of Missouri’s Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) are busy analyzing the bill.

“The new farm bill makes both big and small changes in the way the government provides support to the farm sector,” said Pat Westhoff, co-director of MU’s FAPRI. “Of particular importance could be a new program that makes payments to crop producers when revenues decline. Several provisions of the farm bill may have minor impacts on farm commodity prices.  Changes in energy prices and policies are likely to have bigger effects on farm product prices.”

Westhoff also is a research associate professor in the department of agricultural economics in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Iowa, a master’s in Latin American studies from the University of Texas, and a doctorate in agricultural economics from Iowa State University. Prior to joining FAPRI at MU in August 1996, he served four years as the chief economist for the Democratic staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. From 1983 to 1992, he worked at Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) for FAPRI Iowa State.