In 2015, agriculture accounted for about 1 percent of U.S. GDP and employed less than 1.5 percent of the U.S. workforce. Yet, agricultural interests continue to hold enormous sway over U.S. international trade policy. Relatively untapped foreign markets represent huge opportunities for U.S. agricultural exporters. Meanwhile, high tariffs and tariff-rate quotas on imports raise prices to food processors and consumers. Furthermore, a web of domestic farm support and subsidy programs distort market signals, leading to overproduction that tends to drive down commodity prices worldwide, making it more difficult for farmers in developing countries to earn livings in industries where they have comparative advantages.
Reforming farm policy by cutting subsidy programs and agricultural trade barriers would save U.S. taxpayers and consumers tens of billions of dollars over the next decade, reduce prices to food processing industries and consumers, and help create more space for global trade liberalization.
On this page you will find Cato’s work on agricultural trade, farm legislation, the notorious U.S. sugar program, and WTO and other trade disputes involving cotton, beef, pork, and rules of origin affecting agricultural trade, as well as other related topics.