Other-Regarding Behavior and Taxpayer Preferences for Farm Policy

Brenna Ellison 1 , 1 , Jayson L Lusk 2 , 2  and Brian Briggeman 3 , 3
  • 1 Oklahoma State University, brenna.ellison@okstate.edu
  • 2 Oklahoma State University, jayson.lusk@okstate.edu
  • 3 Federal Reserve Bank, brian.briggeman@kc.frb.org


Changes in the structure of agriculture have led some to rethink the purpose and nature of farm support programs, yet taxpayers are often left unheard in this debate. This paper determines how people would vote on particular farm policies and identifies the determinants of support/opposition to farm programs. Our results show the majority of people support farm subsidies, but voting outcomes are sensitive to the costs of the policy and the magnitude of the payouts to farmers. We find people act altruistically toward small farmers and that people are averse to inequality. Furthermore, we found the public’s attitude toward maintaining a secure food supply is a significant determinant of support for farm programs. Finally, we found that information about farmers’ average incomes and average production levels across different farm sizes had little effect on people’s willingness to subsidize small or large farmers.

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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy (BEJEAP) is an international forum for scholarship that employs microeconomics to analyze issues in business, consumer behavior and public policy. Topics include the interaction of firms, the functioning of markets, the effects of domestic and international policy and the design of organizations and institutions.