Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

2019 Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan

Agricultural Subsidies: Ethical Issues

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1179-9_597



For nearly a century, governments around the world have been supporting their agricultural sectors to a degree that has few sectoral parallels. The preferred mechanism has been a subsidy, be it to bolster output prices, lessen input costs, take land out of production, or simply supplement incomes. More recently, however, agricultural subsidies have come under attack at world trade meetings, and even within poverty-focused civil society organizations, based on arguments that invoke or at least imply ethics. Subsidies in the developed world, and especially in Europe, the United States, and Canada, distort market signals and stunt growth in the developing world by flooding markets with underpriced goods, thereby undercutting efforts by farmers in the south to sell their own produce. These subsidies, which in 2016 for all OECD countries totaled US$228 billion (OECD 2017),...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Benedict, M. R. (1955). Can we solve the farm problem? New York: The Twentieth Century Fund.Google Scholar
  2. Bradshaw, B. (2004). Plus c’est la même chose? Questioning crop diversification as a response to agricultural deregulation in Saskatchewan, Canada. Journal of Rural Studies, 20(1), 35–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fraser, R. (1992). The welfare effects of deregulating producer prices. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 74, 21–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Goodman, D. (1991). Some recent tendencies in the industrial reorganization of the agri-food system. In W. H. Friedland, L. Busch, F. H. Buttel, & A. P. Rudy (Eds.), Towards a new political economy of agriculture (pp. 37–64). Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  5. OECD. (2017). Producer and consumer support estimates database. Available at http://www.oecd.org/tad
  6. Robinson, K. L. (1989). Farm and food policies and their consequences. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Statistics Canada. (1999). CANSIM data base: Canadian socio-economic information management system. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.CSAHS College of Social and Applied Human SciencesUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada