COVID-19 Relief Programs Have Kept U.S. Farm Income High but Shortchanged California Producers
Since 1950, the only years with higher real net farm income than 2020 were 1973–74 and 2011–14. This high income was facilitated by two waves of COVID-19 relief payments totaling $23.8 billion. A third wave is set to occur in 2021. Most of these payments were determined by seemingly arbitrary formulas and were only weakly tied to pandemic-induced losses. Corn, soybeans, cattle, and milk are the four largest value commodities in the country and they received a disproportionately large share of payments. Specialty crops and dairy, which California specializes in, received some support, but much less as a percent of gross farm income. Congress has allocated a further $13 billion to farmers for COVID-19 relief, most of which is slated to go to the major row crops, livestock, and biofuels.
Aaron Smith. 2021. "COVID-19 Relief Programs Have Kept U.S. Farm Income High but Shortchanged California Producers." ARE Update 24(3): 5-8. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.