Agricultural support programs distribute payments to farms based on a diverse set of policy objectives. Adequate targeting of this support to priority areas is key to efficient and effective policy. We evaluated the targeting strategy of a national-level program in Mexico that distributed support based on seven criteria that prioritized poor smallholder farming communities at high risk of cropland failure. We used a series of logistic models to assess the coverage and leakage rates of the program’s targeting strategy and found rates of about 80 and 20 percent, respectively. We also found significant differences between the targeting priorities specified in program rules and the observed distribution of support measures. In general, the program favored arid and semi-arid regions at high risk of soil erosion but neglected smallholder farms in high-poverty regions with elevated rates of cropland failure. Our findings highlight the continued lack of financial support for smallholder agriculture in Mexico, despite program rules and priority statements that stress the vulnerability of this sector. This study also illustrates the important role of spatial targeting in better aligning agricultural support payments with stated policy priorities. This alignment is often overlooked in ex-post assessment, but it is critical for improving targeting precision, equity, and overall policy effectiveness.
Spatial targeting of agricultural support measures: Indicator-based assessment of coverages and leakages
Article published in Science
Chapter published in Neighborly Adversaries: Readings in U.S.–Latin American Relations, Third Edition