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U.S. 2020 Farm Subsidy Breakdown

Connie Spence
April 28, 2021

2020 was a blowout year for U.S. farm subsidies. Between the trade wars and COVID relief, bailouts soared.1

In the U.S., subsidies to the agriculture sector typically run around $20 billion per year. In 2020, bailouts rocketed that number to over $50 billion.

What exactly is a subsidy, and what exactly are bailouts?

At AFA, we want to know how our tax dollars are being used to incentivize farmers. We wonder whether federal policy is being spent wisely. Is it favoring sustainable and healthy food production, or, are our tax dollars being misspent propping up unhealthy and environmentally damaging sectors?

To answer that question, we analyzed how much money went to each category of agricultural products. Here’s the breakdown.

Looking further into the data

2020 Farm Policy Encouraged Livestock Production

2020 Ag Payments failed to address the American Fiber Crisis

According to the American Heart Association, 95% of Americans are failing to consume adequate fiber on a daily basis. Yet more than half of subsidies benefited producers of foods that contain zero fiber.

2020 Farm Subsidies run counter to Climate Action

Livestock, dairy, and animal feed producers received the most subsidies and bailouts. These foods release greenhouse gases, require a lot of land, and provide only a small portion of our nutritional needs. Furthermore, eating too much of these foods leads to health problems.

AFA is lobbying to level the playing field in farm policy. We think public policy should help farmers transition to producing climate-smart crops. Furthermore, we think USDA should direct subsidies and bailouts to ensure the nation is producing foods the same agency, USDA, recommends we eat.

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