Do farm subsidies prop up rural communities? December 22, 2014 A new paper in the journal Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy by Jeremy Weber, Conor Wall, Jason Brown, and Tom Hertz asks whether farm subsidies boost the rural economy. The abstract: Policy makers in the United States often justify agricultural subsidies by stressing that agriculture is the engine of the rural economy. We use the increase in crop prices in the late 2000s to estimate the marginal effect of increased agricultural revenues on local economies in the U.S. Heartland. We find that $1 more in crop revenue generated 64¢ in personal income, with most going to farm proprietors and workers (59%) or nonfarmers who own farm assets (36%). The evidence suggests a weak link between revenues and nonfarm income or employment, or on population. Cuts to agricultural subsidies are therefore likely to have little effect on the broader rural economy in regions like the Heartland.