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The most common way price supports work is that the government enters the market and buys up the product, adding to demand to keep prices higher than they otherwise would be. According to the Common Agricultural Policy reform passed in 2013, the European Union (EU) will spend about 60 billion euros per year, or 67 billion dollars per year, or roughly 38% of the EU budget, on price supports for Europe’s farmers from 2014 to 2020.

[link] illustrates the effects of a government program that assures a price above the equilibrium by focusing on the market for wheat in Europe. In the absence of government intervention, the price would adjust so that the quantity supplied would equal the quantity demanded at the equilibrium point E 0 , with price P 0 and quantity Q 0 . However, policies to keep prices high for farmers keeps the price above what would have been the market equilibrium level—the price Pf shown by the dashed horizontal line in the diagram. The result is a quantity supplied in excess of the quantity demanded (Qd). When quantity supplied exceeds quantity demanded, a surplus exists.

The high-income areas of the world, including the United States, Europe, and Japan, are estimated to spend roughly $1 billion per day in supporting their farmers. If the government is willing to purchase the excess supply (or to provide payments for others to purchase it), then farmers will benefit from the price floor, but taxpayers and consumers of food will pay the costs. Numerous proposals have been offered for reducing farm subsidies. In many countries, however, political support for subsidies for farmers remains strong. Either because this is viewed by the population as supporting the traditional rural way of life or because of the lobbying power of the agro-business industry.

For more detail on the effects price ceilings and floors have on demand and supply, see the following Clear It Up feature.

European wheat prices: a price floor example

The graph shows an example of a price floor which results in a surplus.
The intersection of demand (D) and supply (S) would be at the equilibrium point E 0 . However, a price floor set at Pf holds the price above E 0 and prevents it from falling. The result of the price floor is that the quantity supplied Qs exceeds the quantity demanded Qd. There is excess supply, also called a surplus.

Do price ceilings and floors change demand or supply?

Neither price ceilings nor price floors cause demand or supply to change. They simply set a price that limits what can be legally charged in the market. Remember, changes in price do not cause demand or supply to change. Price ceilings and price floors can cause a different choice of quantity demanded along a demand curve, but they do not move the demand curve. Price controls can cause a different choice of quantity supplied along a supply curve, but they do not shift the supply curve.

Key concepts and summary

Price ceilings prevent a price from rising above a certain level. When a price ceiling is set below the equilibrium price, quantity demanded will exceed quantity supplied, and excess demand or shortages will result. Price floors prevent a price from falling below a certain level. When a price floor is set above the equilibrium price, quantity supplied will exceed quantity demanded, and excess supply or surpluses will result. Price floors and price ceilings often lead to unintended consequences.


A low-income country decides to set a price ceiling on bread so it can make sure that bread is affordable to the poor. The conditions of demand and supply are given in [link] . What are the equilibrium price and equilibrium quantity before the price ceiling? What will the excess demand or the shortage (that is, quantity demanded minus quantity supplied) be if the price ceiling is set at $2.40? At $2.00? At $3.60?

Price Qd Qs
$1.60 9,000 5,000
$2.00 8,500 5,500
$2.40 8,000 6,400
$2.80 7,500 7,500
$3.20 7,000 9,000
$3.60 6,500 11,000
$4.00 6,000 15,000
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Questions & Answers

what is inflation
Prince Reply
hello everyone , I'm New here, third degree price discrimination?
Saeed Reply
2nd degree price discrimination?
price paid by consumers after the sales tax is called?
Pinias Reply
why government impose price floor on certain products?
how can black market be occurred when price ceiling is introduced?
How can inflation affect goods and services?
When prices rise for energy, food, commodities, and other goods and services, the entire economy is affected
If inflation becomes too high the economy can suffer conversely, if inflation is controlled and at reasonable levels, the economy may prosper. With controlled, lower inflation, employment increases.
Is it necessary to make decision when it fails you
Evelin Reply
Pls when what fails u
I think so
well i might naught know what you on about but i gotta tell you, it is necessary
how can the demand side approach solve unemployment
Tshepiso Reply
demand side approach to solve unemployment
Tshepiso Reply
no get ur questions
differentiate between choice and scale of preference
choice are the various wants of every individual whiles scale of preference is the list of unsatisfied wants arranged in order of important priority
choice refers to the act of selecting from alternatives or it refers to the act of choosing one thing instead of the other but Scale of preference refers to the listing of wants in order of important by providing the pressing need on top and the less pressing need at the bottom
four cardinal types of demand
Henry Reply
what are the types of demand
they are the derived,complementary,substitute and supplementary demands
What is equilibrium
equilibrium is the state of balance where there is no tendency for a change to occur.
Derived, competitive, complementary and composite demands
why is economics said to be a dismal science?
hi friends
fyn what is meaning of monopoly
monopoly is when a particular good is produced without competing with any other good.
good evening
draw the market demand curve from the individual demand curve?
With the aid of diagrams,compare the short run equilibrium positions of a perfect competitor and an imperfect competitors
Monlay Reply
What is the term consultation in economics?
Nthabiseng Reply
why is it that the long run Average cost curve does not touch that of the short run curve at its minimum?
Baah Reply
In few words, what is the role of interest rate in economy?
Carlos Reply
what is population
Nyakeh Reply
total number of people in a given area or country
the total number of people at a given area or country
total number of people in a given area or country
What is price Elasticity of demand?.
The responsiveness of the quantity of a commodity demanded to a change in its price, expressed as the percentage change in quantity demanded divided by the percentage change in price.
why is it that the long run Average cost doesn't touch the short run cost curve at its minimum?
what is supply
please rice and beans will be what type of demand but note we mostly cook it together
Oladosu Reply
complementary or joint demand
but did you know you can demand for rice without beans so how is it joint or complementary
From my point of view, rice and beans are replaceable goods, hence they can't be complementary.
what are the money value
Wisdom Reply
Nothing more than a purchase power, in other words, $100 now, must have the same value after 1 year.

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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