The 1990 US Farm Bill debate took place in a context not very auspicious for agricultural policy reform. To be sure there was a large federal budget deficit, but government farm spending was rapidly declining. The unusually hot and dry summer of 1988 had caused a major crop shortfall, with the result that commodity prices had increased and stocks had fallen. The farm economy was well on the way to recovery from the depressed conditions of the mid-1980s, and there was a general perception in the farm policy community that the 1985 Farm Bill had been a success. There was little pressure for change from the Uruguay Round negotiations that were stalled at the time because of EC reluctance to cut domestic price supports, import barriers and export subsidies.