Farm Economies of the Plains: A Comment

William H. Meyers
June 1987  [87-WP 20]

William H. Meyers comments on a paper by Belongia and Gilbert presented at the 1986 annual meetings of the Allied Social Science Association. Belongia and Gilbert analyzed the scope of farm income and debt problems in the Plains States and discussed the causes of those problems. Meyers accepts Belongia and Gilbert's evidence of a deterioration in farm financial conditions since 1980, but rejects their test of the effects of macroeconomic fluctuations on economies dependent on agricultural income. The bases of his objections are Belongia and Gilbert's use of national GNP only as an explanatory macroeconomic variable and their use of farm or personal income as measures for agricultural sector performance, although it may verify the effectiveness of government programs in insulating farm income from the effects of macroeconomic policies. Meyers recommends a reevaluation of current agricultural policies to address the financial problems of farmers and agricultural lenders, which he sees as a more serious problem than that of general farm income.

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