Protectionism is incapable of saving jobs. Employment in specific industries has declined largely because productivity growth has outpaced demand growth. Rising productivity is good for the economy; it provides workers with opportunities for higher paying jobs. Trade protection defers and complicates this process, though. It distorts market signals that might otherwise encourage new investment in new industries, and discourages workers from seeking opportunities these investments provide.

The same concepts hold for government intervention in agricultural markets. Cutting farm subsidies and agricultural trade barriers would save U.S. taxpayers and consumers tens of billions of dollars during the next decade, would yield environmental benefits by reducing over-production, and stimulate innovation and productivity on farms.

More on Agricultural Trade


Consumers Win as WTO Condemns Protectionist Meat Labels

By K. William Watson. The Hill (Online). October 24, 2014.

Will India Destroy the WTO’s Agricultural Reforms?

By Daniel R. Pearson. The Hill (Online). October 14, 2014.

India’s Dangerous Food Subsidies

By Daniel R. Pearson. The Diplomat. August 26, 2014.

Cato Studies

Farm Bill “Reform” Is in the Eye of the Beholder

By Sallie James. Free Trade Bulletin No. 52. May 29, 2013.

Countervailing Calamity: How to Stop the Global Subsidies Race

By Scott Lincicome. Policy Analysis No. 710. October 9, 2012.

Crisis Averted? How Government Actions Keep Food Prices High

By Sallie James. Free Trade Bulletin No. 35. December 7, 2008.


An Economic Critique of Corn-Ethanol Subsidies

Jerry Taylor. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Regional Economic Development. Vol. 5. No. 1. 2009.

Public Filings

Horne v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

By Steffen N. Johnson, Eimeric Reig-Pleissis, Christopher E. Mills, Ilya Shapiro, & Trevor Burrus. Legal Briefs. October 8, 2014.

Hettinga v. United States

By Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, and Matt Gilliam. Legal Briefs. November 21, 2012.


The 2013 Farm Bill: Reducing the Economic and Environmental Costs

Featuring Chris Edwards and Laura Odato. May 30, 2013. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Tricked on Our Treats: Time to Rethink the U.S. Sugar Program

Featuring Daniel Griswold. October 30, 2009. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Freeing the Farm: A Farm Bill for All Americans

Featuring Sallie James. May 23, 2007. Capitol Hill Briefing.


Farm Bill Follies

By Daniel Griswold. June 6, 2002.

Farm Bill Follies

By Daniel Griswold. June 6, 2002.

Endocrine Disrupters, Politics, Pesticides,

By Peter Gordon. December 15, 1997.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Agricultural Regulations and Trade Barriers

By Chris Edwards. June 2009.

Agricultural Subsidies

By Chris Edwards. June 2009.