The economic consequences of substituting carbon payments for crop subsidies in U.S. agriculture

TitleThe economic consequences of substituting carbon payments for crop subsidies in U.S. agriculture
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsCallaway, JM, McCarl B
JournalEnvironmental and Resource Economics
Volume7
Issue1
Pagination15-43
KeywordsAfforestation, Carbon sequestration, climate change, Farm policy
Abstract

There is a growing body of literature on the costs of sequestering carbon. However, no studies have examined the interplay between farm commodity programs and carbon sequestration programs. This study investigates two dimensions of the interaction between farm commodity programs and afforestation programs, using a price-endogenous sector model of agriculture in the United States. First, this study compares the fiscal and welfare costs of achieving specific carbon targets through afforestation, with and without current farm programs. Second, it examines the welfare, fiscal, and carbon consequences of replacing existing farm subsidies, wholly or in part, with payments for carbon. Two approaches, Hicksian and Marshallian, are investigated. In the first, the sector model is used to quantify the carbon consequences and fiscal costs associated with various combinations of farm commodity and carbon sequestration programs that leave consumers and producers in the U.S. agricultural sector no worse off than under existing farm programs. The second approach focuses on the carbon and welfare consequences of various farm commodity and carbon sequestration programs that hold total program fiscal costs constant at current levels. Although the methodology and data are applied to the United States, the issues addressed are common in a number of developed nations, particularly within the European Union (EU). Adapting existing sector models in these nations to perform similar analyses would provide policy makers with more precise information about the nature of the trade-offs involved with second-best policies for replacing farm commodity subsidies with tree planting subsidies.

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