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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Options Pilot Program (OPP), focusing on: (1) the status of OPP implementation; and (2) views on OPP performance. GAO noted that: (1) USDA implemented OPP in 1993, subsidizing options purchases by 956 farmers in nine counties in three states; (2) USDA expanded OPP in 1994 to cover four more counties in two additional states, for a total of about 1,300 farmers; (3) USDA further expanded OPP in 1995 to cover a total of 21 counties in seven states; (4) one view on OPP performance was optimistic and noted that producers showed a relatively high level of interest in OPP; and (5) USDA analysts were more cautious in their evaluations and believed that OPP could cost the federal government more than payments for income and support programs.

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