USDA outlays increased by 70 percent between fiscal years 2004 and 2013. (Fiscal years begin October 1 and end September 30.) Expenditures for nutrition assistance rose the most, particularly after 2008, as program changes and tough economic times led to increased participation, but improvements in the economy led to lower outlays in 2013. Outlays on commodity programs fell nearly 60 percent from 2004 to 2013 as higher market prices reduced payments to producers. With the reduction in outlays for commodity support, the agriculture sector has relied more on the marketplace for its income. Conservation and crop insurance spending also rose slowly, particularly since 2008, but crop insurance outlays jumped nearly 40 percent in 2013, reflecting the effects of the 2012 drought.
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