Tags: Congress | Farmers | Subsidies | USDA

Let's Cut the Fat Subsidies Farmers Rake In

Monday, 08 December 2014 08:53 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Now that I’ve recovered from a bout of tryptophan poisoning, I’ve been giving some thought to the photos of this season’s Thanksgiving ceremony, and the subsidies that often accompany the food on the table. Meat producers don’t receive agriculture subsidies; it’s the side dishes and the tablecloth that are killing us.

The farmers responsible for the spicy corn casserole, rolls, rice stuffing, cotton and the oil you fried the turkey in are raking in an aggregate $35 billion in yearly handouts according to a study from the Cato Institute.

You wouldn’t know it listening to agriculture lobbyists, but America had plenty of food without spending a dime on direct–to–farmer subsidies from July 4, 1776 until 1929. Then America was hit by global warming and cropland burned up forcing citizens to get by on bathtub gin.

No that was actually the year the stock market crashed and progressive experts felt that plummeting stock prices would somehow either affect the fertility of the soil or cause farmers to want to become stockbrokers so they could work indoors and replace staff members who jumped out the window on Black Tuesday.

Either way the only solution to the non–existent famine was to start paying farmers to grow food they’d been growing for free since the nation’s founding. And we are still paying today.

The Washington Post found that due to the usual crack oversight we’ve come to expect from Congress and the federal government, between 2000 and 2006 the Dept. of Agriculture gave $1.3 billion in direct payment to people who didn’t even farm.

Periodically there are agriculture reform movements in Congress that raise taxpayer hopes only to see them dashed in the end as the Kafka 2000 Tax Payment Processor is fired up. In 1996 a Freedom to Farm law was passed. The idea was to remove USDA oversight of farming and introduce a new innovation that’s done so much to reduce the cost of electronic equipment called “supply and demand.”

Unfortunately the reform was undermined by an unholy alliance of farmers on welfare, welfare recipients on food stamps, and Members of Congress that put staying on the government payroll ahead of protecting the taxpayer.

The result was a bill designed to spend only $47 billion from 1996 until 2002 actually spent two–and–a–half times more for a total of $121 billion.

For taxpayers agriculture subsidies are the gift that keeps on punishing.
Corn growers are particularly guilty here. They fight tooth–and–toenail to keep the ethanol program siphoning money out of the treasury. This is a triple cost mugging. First we’re giving money to corn growers to sell corn to ethanol producers at a guaranteed price, regardless of what the market would set.

Then we pay more at the pump for ethanol in our gas, which is more inefficient than 100 percent gasoline gas and can increase wear on engines. And finally we pay more for beef, pork and poultry at the grocery store because so much corn is diverted to ethanol production that feed costs have skyrocketed.

This subsidy–in–every–pot philosophy at USDA is making a visit to the meat isle more expensive than an Obamacare deductible.

The cost to feed livestock totals 50 to 80 percent of the expense of raising an animal to slaughter. A quote on Agri–Pulse.com summed up the situation. “Subsidized ethanol has meant record–high corn prices, record–high costs of production for meat and poultry, resulting in lower per capita meat and poultry output, and finally, record–high meat prices,” said Roger Meyer, president of Paragon Economics Inc.

The solution is to put farmers on a glutton–free diet. Cato points out that this incredible subsidy spending only goes to 36 percent of US farm production, “ . . . while commodities that generally survive without subsidies, including meats, poultry, fruits, and vegetables, account for 64 percent of production. And, of course, most other U.S. industries prosper without the sort of government coddling that farmers receive.”

And it can be done. New Zealand stopped all farm subsidies in 1984 with no ill effect. They even attracted the Hobbit growth industry.

If a small country floating in the middle of nowhere can do it, we can too.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

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Periodically there are agriculture reform movements in Congress that raise taxpayer hopes only to see them dashed in the end.
Congress, Farmers, Subsidies, USDA
Monday, 08 December 2014 08:53 AM
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