Updated USDA Farm Income Forecast Confirms This Is Not the Time to Increase Subsidies

Recently updated data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service show that the farm sector continues to prosper, even as subsidies designed to help farmers survive trade wars and the global pandemic have phased out. 

Figure 1: Net Farm Income and Federal Support (Billions of 2023 Dollars)

Source: USDA Economic Research Service

After adjusting for inflation, net farm income reached a record high in 2022. USDA projects that 2023 net farm income will be 25 percent higher than the average for 2010 to 2022. Farm subsidies are projected to be nearly 19 percent higher in 2023 than the average from 2010 to 2018, before trade-war aid and pandemic assistance kicked in.  

In the face of record budget deficits as far as the eye can see, this is no time to increase farm subsidies. Instead, Congress should reduce trade barriers on farm inputs like fertilizer and steel, take action to reduce the likelihood of export-killing trade wars, and work to open foreign markets to U.S.-produced agricultural products. Trade, not aid, is the future for American farmers and ranchers.