USDA outlays increased by 66 percent between fiscal years 2004 and 2012. (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. Crop insurance and conservation spending also rose, but outlays on commodity programs fell nearly 70 percent 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.
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