How to design a targeted agricultural subsidy system: Efficiency or equity?

In this paper we appraise current agricultural subsidy policy in the EU. Several sources of its inefficiency are identified: it is inefficient for supporting farmers’ incomes or guaranteeing food security, and irrational transfer payments decoupled from actual performance that may be negative for environmental protection, social cohesion, etc. Based on a simplified economic model, we prove that there is “reverse redistribution” in the current tax-subsidy system, which cannot be avoided. To find a possible way to distribute subsidies more efficiently and equitably, several alternative subsidy systems (the pure loan, the harvest tax and the income contingent loan) are presented and examined.

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