In Chapter 4, we discussed the federal government’s agricultural programs. In arguing that the costs of these programs exceed their benefits, economist Vincent H. Smith stated, “The 10% to 15% of farm families that receive more than 85% of all farm subsidies—amounting to millions of dollars a year in a few cases—have annual household incomes many times as large as those of the average U.S. taxpayer.” According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, these programs cost taxpayers about $20 billion annually.

a. What is the stated purpose of the federal government’s agricultural programs?

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b. Are the points Smith raises consistent with the purpose of the programs? If not, what explains how the programs currently work?


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