THE ECONOMIC PAMPHLETEER: Rethinking Government Policies for Growing Farmers


  • John Ikerd University of Missouri, Columbia



Food Policy


First paragraphs:

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking that created them." At no time have these oft-quoted words of Albert Einstein been more appropriate than in addressing the problems of today's farmers. Between 1940 and 1990, with the industrialization of agriculture, the number of farms in the U.S. dropped from more than six million to just over two million. This drop in the number of farms has since leveled off, but the ability of farms to support farm families has continued to decline. Over the past couple of decades, around 90 percent of farm family income has come from nonfarm sources.

In spite of all of the political rhetoric about supporting family farms, government farm programs have consistently subsidized the industrialization of agriculture. As a consequence, farm programs have contributed both directly and indirectly to the demise of family farms. Subsidized, standardized, routinized, and simplified farm management has effectively coerced or forced fewer farmers on larger farms to produce more food at ever lower economic costs. However, these same strategies are directly responsible for the lack of agricultural sustainability. We can’t solve the ecological, social, or economic problems of agriculture today with the same kind of thinking that created them....


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Author Biography

John Ikerd, University of Missouri, Columbia

John Ikerd is professor emeritus of agricultural economics, University of Missouri, Columbia. He received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri. He spent 30 years in various professorial positions at North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Georgia, and the University of Missouri before retiring in 2000. Since retiring, he spends most of his time writing and speaking on issues related to sustainability with an emphasis on economics and agriculture.
John Ikerd



How to Cite

Ikerd, J. (2010). THE ECONOMIC PAMPHLETEER: Rethinking Government Policies for Growing Farmers. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 1(1), 15–17.

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