Vincent H. Smith is Professor of Economics in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University and co-director of MSU’s Agricultural Marketing Policy Center. He received his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in 1987 and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Manchester in 1970 and 1971. Dr. Smith’s current research program examines agricultural trade and domestic policy issues, with a particular focus on agricultural insurance, agricultural science policy, domestic and world commodity markets, risk management, and agricultural trade policy. He has authored nine books and monographs and published over 100 articles on agricultural and other policy and economic issues. His work has been recognized nationally through multiple national awards for outstanding research programs. In 2008, he became a Distinguished Scholar of the Western Agricultural Economics Association. Currently he is a Visiting AEI Scholar and co-director of AEI’s agricultural policy initiative. Dr. Smith is married and he and his wife, Laura, have two children, Karen and Meredith.
Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT (1998-present) and Co-director, Agricultural Marketing policy Center, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana (2000-present).
Senior Research Fellow, Trade Research Center, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 1996-2000,
Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT (1994-1998).
Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT (1988-1994).
Consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1981-90).
Ph.D., North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
The current “welfare for doing nothing” Direct Payments program and a related shallow loss program known as ACRE should be terminated, reducing the budget deficit about $5 billion a year. Crop insurance subsidies should be rolled back to pre-2001 levels.
You might think that no sensible policy maker would have handed out about $80 billion dollars in welfare checks mainly to very wealthy farm households at the rate of about $5 billion a year for doing nothing since the mid-1990s, but you would be wrong.
Last month, during a trip to Zambia, I was given a graphic lesson about real poverty and how difficult it is for extremely poor farmers to escape from a subsistence existence in a country where most people live on two dollars a day.
The House of Representatives has now passed a farm bill on an entirely partisan basis. No Democrat voted for the bill, not least because the House leadership voted out the nutrition title that would have reauthorized food stamps, or Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program.
The 2013 Farm Bill presents a real opportunity for substantive changes in U.S. agricultural policy. But instead of reform, both the House and Senate agricultural committees are offering classic bait-and-switch proposals to protect farm subsidies - more than 80 percent of which flow to households much wealthier than the average American family.
Congress was unable to pass a farm bill in 2012 because of disagreements on policy and funding levels. With farm bill action expected soon in the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, what should farm subsidy programs look like?
For many years, a persistent theme in House and Senate Agricultural Committee debates over farm policy has been “Give the farm lobbies the subsidy programs they want and the heck with the consequences for U.S. trade relations.”