The Department of Agriculture provides an array of subsidies for farmers and imposes extensive regulations on agricultural markets. It operates the food stamp and school lunch programs, and it administers numerous subsidy programs for rural parts of the nation. The Forest Service is also within the Department of Agriculture.
The department will spend $154 billion in 2016, or $1,230 for every U.S. household. After adjusting for inflation, spending has increased 45 percent since 2000. The department operates about 268 subsidy programs and employs 90,100 workers in about 7,000 offices across the country.
- Agricultural Subsidies. The department provides up to $30 billion annually to farmers of corn, cotton, rice, soybeans, wheat, and other crops. It also aids farmers with research, loan, and insurance programs.
- Agricultural Regulations and Trade Barriers. The government regulates domestic markets for products such as sugar and milk, and it imposes trade restrictions on various farm products.
- Rural Subsidies. The department runs numerous subsidy programs for businesses and individuals in rural areas.
- Food Subsidies. Most of the department’s budget goes toward food subsidies, including the food stamp and school lunch programs.
- Forest Service. The Forest Service oversees 193 million acres of forests and provides subsidies to businesses and state governments.
John R. Norton, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, 1985-1986