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OECD: Government ag support falls in 2011

Government support to agriculture in the world’s richest countries fell to 19 percent of total farm receipts in 2011, a record low driven by developments in international commodity markets rather than by explicit policy changes, according to the latest version of an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development annual report, which was released in Washington today.

Government support amounts to 9 percent of farm receipts in the United States, while government support in the European Union amounts to 20 percent of receipts, according to the report from the Paris-based OECD.

“The move toward lower farm support is a welcome trend, but we still see the need for better targeting and more cost-effective farm policy,” OECD Trade and Agriculture Director Ken Ash said in a news release.

“Farm support should be more closely directed at increasing agricultural productivity and competitiveness,” Ash said. “Governments should also be doing more to address environmental issues, ensure sustainable resource use and help farmers better cope with risk.”

The new report shows that support levels still vary widely across other OECD countries.

Over the 2009-11 period, New Zealand had the lowest level of support, at just 1 percent of farm income, followed by Australia (3 percent), and Chile (4 percent).

Mexico (12 percent), Israel (13 percent) and Canada (16 percent) were also below the OECD average.

At the other end of the scale, support to farmers remains relatively high in Iceland (47 percent), Korea (50 percent), Japan (51 percent), Switzerland (56 percent) and Norway (60 percent).

OECD — Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2012