Nations spend $600 billion-plus annually on ag subsidies. Here's how that money could feed a more sustainable future

Written by
Tim Searchinger
Aug. 12, 2020

"To both feed the world and solve climate change, the world needs to produce 50 percent more food in 2050 compared to 2010 while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds. While government funding has an important role to play, a new World Bank report I wrote with seven co-authors found that agricultural subsidies are doing little to achieve these goals, but have great potential for reform.

Governments provide on average $600 billion per year for agricultural support in the countries that generate two-thirds of the world’s agriculture. This is a lot of money. Government support averages 30 percent of the agricultural production in these countries (measured by "value added"). Yet our report found that only 5 percent of this funding supports any kind of conservation objective, and only 6 percent supports research and technical assistance. Pure income support accounts for 70 percent."

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