Group (EWG) has compiled a database of each individual who
receives farm subsidies to increase public awareness, and as the
2013 farm bill was being debated the EWG counted more than
630 editorials arguing we need to rethink how we administer
farm subsidies—and whether we should provide them at all.
Ethanol subsidies continue to be opposed by everyone except
ethanol and corn producers, but the US government continues
to require that gasoline contain a certain amount of ethanol.
The United States may be at a point where farm subsidies will
undergo a serious change. With the Tea Party putting greater
pressure on Republicans to curb government programs, envi-
ronmental groups proving to be formidable challengers to the
subsidies, and farmers being less concerned about receiving
subsidies in the presence of spectacularly high grain prices,
farm subsidies might be a fading institution. This is said in the
summer of 2013. Yet everything may change within a year, and
it appears that farm subsidies might evolve into a subsidized
crop insurance program. Whether these subsidies are larger or
smaller than their predecessors remains to be seen.
The United States is not alone in questioning farm subsi-
dies. Rice farmers were promised large subsidies in Thailand
to win their votes, but when this promise was fulfilled the
government discovered the program was too expensive and
was unsure what to do with the surplus rice it accumulated.
Indian politicians are trying to reduce the fertilizer subsidies
the government doles out, both because of high costs and
because farmers are applying so much they are harming the
soil. Food and agricultural subsidies comprise 4 percent of
Egypt's budget, making the price of food so low that people
feed cheap bread to animals.
Developing countries have an even harder time reducing sub-
sidies than the United States or European Union because low
food prices are seen as necessary to political stability. US poli-
ticians may fear losing campaign contributions if they remove
subsidies, whereas their Third World counterparts may fear los-
ing their heads.