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Agriculture: Farm Program Payments (2011-35)

Reducing farm program direct payments could result in savings from $800 million over 10 years to up to $5 billion annually.

Action:

Congress may wish to consider reducing or eliminating fixed annual payments to farmers, called direct payments, by (1) lowering payment or income eligibility limits; (2) reducing the portion of a farm's acres eligible for the payments; or (3) terminating or phasing out direct payments.

Progress:

As GAO suggested in March 2011, Congress eliminated direct payments when it passed, and the President signed, the Agricultural Act of 2014. This action will save about $4.9 billion annually from fiscal year 2015 through 2023, according to the Congressional Budget Office's February 2013 estimate, which does not include sequestration.

Implementing Entity:

Congress
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    • Anne-Marie Fennell
    • Director, Natural Resources and Environment
    • FennellA@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-3841