On August 10, 1973, President Nixon signed the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act, hopeful that it would not only encourage farmers to expand and produce at full capacity, but also help halt rising inflation levels.
The Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act set the national farm policy for the following four years. RN remarked that the new law “[continued] the system of Government participation in farm production but [did] so in a way which [would] ensure administrative flexibility and thus encourage larger supplies of farm goods.” Accordingly, the law would effectively allow farmers to increase agricultural output without fear of losing valuable farm income by setting a new system of price guarantees. Thus, America’s farm families would be able to produce at maximum capacity without being subject to the ever changing demands of the nation and the world.
The new law was more far reaching than any previous farm bill. It not only established target prices and deficiency payments to replace former price support payments, but also authorized disaster payments and disaster reserve inventories. It reduced payment limitations to $20,000 for all program crops and amended the food stamp distribution and qualifications system. Food stamp recipients would begin to see expanded coverage and higher benefits. Also, the law would again make eligible for food stamps certain recipients of supplemental security income benefits.
Furthermore, the law featured provisions that required the Secretary of Agriculture to continue a program for sharing the costs of conservation practices on private lands under the Rural Environmental Assistance Program and provided forestry incentives to encourage the production of timber on private tracts.
RN hoped that in the near future, the government would provide income assistance primarily in cash as opposed to in-kind benefits. Ultimately, his goal was to enable farmers to make their own production decisions and consumers their spending decisions.