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7/7/2009
TIME TO PHASE OUT FARM SUBSIDIES

President Obama has discovered a spending program he doesn’t like. It’’s crop price supports and other subsidies that go to farmers - most of whom don’t need them or shouldn’t be getting them.

My latest column at American Issues Project examines the outdated notion that farms need and deserve subsidies:

Thank Thomas Jefferson for the nearly $17 billion we taxpayers are forced to shell out every year to subsidize two dozen commodities with price supports, as well as billions more for a complex of interrelated agricultural benefits for everything from crop insurance to irrigation payments.

It was the Sage of Monticello, gentleman farmer, tinkerer, and agricultural scientist, who envisioned an America of “yeoman farmers,” whose industriousness, virtue, devotion to the land, and love of freedom would one day extend coast to coast in an “Empire of Liberty.”

Jefferson offered this vision as a counterweight to Alexander Hamilton’s money grubbing commercial ideas of factory owners and shopkeepers running the country (along with stock jobbers and speculators). The two great visions of America have clashed since our founding, with Hamilton’s ideals eventually winning out.

But the romanticized Jeffersonian vision of the small farmer, battling Mother Nature and the land itself, has never quite died the death it should have. Hence, beginning with the New Deal, farmers have been given special treatment by the government in the form of price supports that place a floor underneath commodity prices. And most of that taxpayer cash goes to “farmers” who are quite far from Jefferson’s yeoman farmer vision. In fact, it was discovered in 2007 that about $1.3 billion in farm aid went to people who didn’t grow or produce any agricultural products at all, while another study in 2008 found that two thirds of the subsidies go to just 10% of all farmers.

Subsidies costs us hundreds of billions in increased food prices, taxes, and lost exports as other nations raise huge tariffs on our farm products to keep them off their grocery shelves. Poor people around the world suffer as well because subsidies not only make food more expensive but also drive them off the land because they cannot compete with western industrialized agriculture.

Read the whole thing.

By: Rick Moran at 8:08 am
13 Responses to “TIME TO PHASE OUT FARM SUBSIDIES”
  1. 1
    Juan Paxety Said:
    8:27 am 

    25-years ago the word was that there were more employees of the Department of Agriculture than there were farmers in the U.S.

  2. 2
    Rob F Said:
    10:18 am 

    I agree that it would be better to eliminate the agricultural subsidies. They distort the market, discourage change, and protect inefficiency. Indeed, in economic terms, it may well be better for some agricultural businesses to be allowed to fold. Also, these subsidies also hinder the development of poorer countries that depend on agriculture.

    However, abolishing the subsidies doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of happening, no matter how good doing so may be in the long run.

  3. 3
    lionheart Said:
    11:25 am 

    Bravo for President Obama! He’s finally on the right side of something!

    I’ll bet you a bottle of good scotch that the subsidies don’t get cut. Farming is a powerful lobby, and money talks.

  4. 4
    DoorHold Said:
    12:45 pm 

    I agree there’s no compelling reason to continue such subsidies, but I find it odd that Obama FINALLY draws the line on government spending when it comes to “farming.” I would NOT be surprised if this, like he’s doing to the health industry, is part of a scheme to nationalize the farming industry.

  5. 5
    Anonymous Said:
    12:54 pm 

    I read the whole thing but really didn’t have to, as we are all on the same page for once. Well written anyway.

  6. 6
    Commie Stooge Said:
    4:44 pm 

    At least you’re not blaming it just on FDR.

    During WW1 American Farmers expanded production; only to see prices fall after the War.

    During the 20s farmers continued to overproduce, and there were even schemes to limit production that were unworkable; so prices continued to fall.

    The farms were the first sector of the economy to decline even before the stock market crash.

    Farm subsidies and production limits were a centerpiece of the New Deal; and we’ve never figured out how to elimante them.

  7. 7
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    9:13 pm 

    Rob F said:

    However, abolishing the subsidies doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of happening, no matter how good doing so may be in the long run.

    Amen to that. If we were willing to sit by and watch Saddam use gas to murder untold numbers of Iraqi people just so we could continue the billion dollar agriculture trade from southern farmers during the Reagan years, we’re sure as hell not going to see subsidies going anywhere anytime soon.

  8. 8
    gregdn Said:
    1:33 pm 

    To me it’s ironic that we’ve let high paying manufacturing jobs go overseas while ruthlessly protecting an industry that provides only low paying jobs (to everyone except the farm owner).

  9. 9
    Davebo Said:
    10:06 pm 

    Which state holds it’s primaries first again?

    Hell if we could rid ourselves of the ethanol subsidies it would be a great start but don’t count on it?

    And by the way, what does New Hampshire get out of it?

  10. 10
    Maggie's Farm Trackbacked With:
    4:19 am 

    Thurs. morning links…

    The first power generating nuke reactor
    Gone sane: Dr. Sanity goes offline
    G8 promises to control world temperature. Ya can’t make this stuff up.
    Your mammogram by the lowest bidder
    The second time we agree with the O: time to get rid of fa…

  11. 11
    Dirk Said:
    8:34 pm 

    I am a farmer in the midwest, and I too would be all for ending farm subsidies. In the end they mostly go to the landowner. As far as ethanol, if you want to abolish ethanol subsidies let us be consistent and put an end to all the special treatment the IRS gives the oil companies. And all the ethanol subsidies combined don’t add up to what goes out through our military budget every year to protect the overseas interests of the oil industry. You want to end subsidies and special treatment, let’s end them all. I’ll support you all the way. Keep in mind that at least the dollars from those ethanol subsidies are staying here, not going to the Middle East.

  12. 12
    Jon Said:
    2:39 pm 

    http://www.obpa.usda.gov/budsum/FY10budsum.pdf

    The thing I find interesting is that the US Department of Agriculture spends 67% of their budget on nutrition assistance (WIC and school lunches). Only 17% of their budget is slated to be spent on Farm Programs…

  13. 13
    kb5zcs Said:
    11:19 am 

    Lets stop all these subsidies to all these guys,lets dont for get the oil guys, they got there fare share when bush was running the show,it’s funny bush gave them what they wanted and then they stuck it to us at the pump,people havent you had it with the rich telling how to live.The rich have had there way and now we are all paying for it.

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