While the social or real cost of the programs is extremely difficult to measure, estimates place it in excess of $9 billion annually at the 1983 level of government outlays. Yet, despite their high cost, the programs have had few successes. Gains to families on smaller farms have been minimal, and farmer protests are as vociferous as ever. Indeed, journeys to Washington by groups of farmers to harangue Congress and the administration for special assistance are being made with increasing frequency.
This study traces the development of government crop programs from their beginnings, with the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, to the present, with special reference to the programs for food grain (wheat and rice), feed grain (corn), and cotton. It outlines the attempts made to generate higher returns for farmers and explains why these efforts failed. Finally, it offers some recommendations for future disposition of the programs.