Roles, Cost, and Criteria for Assessing Agriculture Disaster Assistance Programs Between 1980 and 1988

T-RCED-90-37: Published: Mar 6, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1990.

Additional Materials:


John W. Harman
(202) 512-5138


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO discussed the federal government's responses to natural agricultural disasters, focusing on: (1) the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) role in providing agricultural disaster assistance since 1980; (2) criteria for assessing federal agricultural disaster assistance; and (3) how well current programs met those criteria. GAO noted that: (1) USDA provided about $17.6 billion in disaster assistance between 1980 and 1988, through cash payments, subsidized emergency loans, and crop insurance; and (2) its eight criteria for assessing disaster assistance programs were based on equity and efficiency. GAO also noted that the crop insurance program: (1) met more of the criteria than other forms of disaster assistance; (2) suffered from low participation rates and competition with other disaster assistance; and (3) was only appropriate for compensating victims of crop losses, so other forms of assistance would be more suitable for other disaster-caused damages.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Last year's budget agreement makes it much less likely that Congress will pass large ad hoc disaster relief bills. Because Congress cannot pass laws that bird the next Congress, this action is about as strong an action that can be taken to meet this recommendation.

    Matter: If Congress chooses to rely on crop insurance as the primary method of providing disaster assistance, it should prevent other disaster assistance programs from competing with it.


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Nov 17, 2020

Jul 16, 2020

Jun 25, 2020

Jun 11, 2020

Apr 28, 2020

Mar 9, 2020

Jan 28, 2020

Oct 8, 2019

Looking for more? Browse all our products here