Kill the Farm Bill

Farm subsidies in the United States go to just a handful of crops, corn, wheat, cotton, soybeans, and rice.  Most fruits and vegetables are not subsidized, at least not directly but don’t forget opportunity cost!

David Zetland
has the dirt:

In this op/ed,
a Minnesota farmer complains that he cannot increase production of
garden crops by growing them on former-program crop land because these
acres will lose their corn subsidy forever if non-program crops are
grown on the land for a year.

Why? Because national
fruit and vegetable growers based in California, Florida and Texas fear
competition from regional producers like myself. Through their control
of Congressional delegations from those states, they have been able to
virtually monopolize the country’s fresh produce markets.

other words, it seems that non-program crop states have been willing to
support continued subsidies for program crop states because they are
facing less competition in return. Less competition, higher prices and
more money. Voila!


Why is paying people not to play automatically suspect?

BTW Michael, for $5 I will not participate in this thread.

We know who the bootleggers are, but who are the baptists?

I wholeheartedly agree. Doing so would also have a very beneficial impact on third world economies, particularly in Africa by opening up a very large new market in which they could compete.

The cost of sugar would be half what it is if the bans on sugar importation were lifted. At the moment it's a $4 billion gift to the sugar industry at a cost of $8 billion in lost consumer surplus, the latter being probably larger since American sugar isn't a cost-effect substitute for corn syrup and the like

Did you know David Letterman gets subsidies?

In regards to New Zealand getting off of the subsidy fix, here is a link supporting that position Here is a more scholarly approach
So it can work for first world countries.

This is from David Dollar (great name) of the World Bank at

" Gillian Virata:
So many knowledgeable individuals have written and said so much about having to eliminate agricultural subsidies to help the poorest of the poor. Shouldn't more be done for this knowledge to filter down to NGOs, consumers, and other groups to generate the public outcry against the subsidies that has been so sorely lacking?

David Dollar:
I very much welcome your point about the need to rally NGOs, consumers, and other groups to bring down agricultural subsidies of rich countries. This would create more trading opportunities for poor countries and raise the incomes of their farmers. I fear that the anti-globalization movement has created the false impression in rich countries that trade is a bad thing for poor countries and poor people so that it is harder to rally groups to support efforts that make it easier for poor countries to trade. Activists who care about the poor in the developing world should be trying to make it easier - not harder - for them to access US and other rich markets."
This paper from the North-South Institute would also agree.
so it would seem to work well for third world countries if the first world gave up its subsidies.

As for being against ethanol is being for pollution, I have to disagree. There are some links here that argue that is is more complicated than that especially the Economist article.

capitalism for thee, socialism for me.

Always the same story, from the biggest IBs down to the humble farmer.

I thought evidence was tipping that ethanol did not reduce pollution (a quick surf seems to confirm this).

Alex -- thanks for the plug. A few comments:
@brainwarped -- Petrarch is right

@josh -- baptists are the big brands in CA, FL that sell salad mix, carrots, "California raisins" , happy cows, etc. They are claiming that a little sunshine is in every can and package and will make your miserable midwestern life better /sarcasm

@dag -- the farmer is NOT asking for subsidies. He is asking for freedom to farm (the real type, not the congressional type)

@restrain oligopolies -- 1) he was not asking for subsidies. 2) NYT has no position -- it was the farmer's op/ed. 3) flat subsidies to farmers are not going to work and much of your data may be suspect because USDA does not sample small farms very well. 4) I disagree that the current cropping pattern is the result of nature -- government programs cause HEAVY distortions -- mostly through trade barriers, not subsidies (cf, sugar)

You would be able to save a few bucks each if subsidies were eliminated.Each farmer will lost thousans perhaps millions.You are 330 millions, they are how much? 10.000? So subsidies wont be eliminated soon

California farmers pay a lower price for subsidized water.

@Richard A, Farmers on the FEDERAL Central Valley Project pay about 20% of the cost of water. Farmers getting FEDERAL water from the Colorado river MAKE money from water (since they get hydropower revenue). Farmers who get water from the STATE water project pay cost of transport and infrastructure but no opportunity cost. They are still paying 10x what farmers on the federal teat are getting.

If you want to end subsides on water, go to DC (I happen to be here now, but nobody from the Bureau of Reclamation is listening to me shouting :)

We know who the bootleggers are, but who are the baptists?

Baptists and bootleggers--

Farm bills include not only subsidies for farmers, but also the food stamp program and nutritional programs in the schools. These programs represent the majority of the farm bill expenditures.

In Congress, therefore, farm state legislators vote for subsidies for farmer constituents, big-city legislators support those programs to get more food stamp and nutritional programs for their inner-city poor.

A lot of our country's subsidized corn goes to a few rich people in Guatemala. They transform the corn into worthless chips and other nutritionless snacks that are bagged in non-degradable plastic and are purchased by the poorest of the children in Guatemala. This situation is causing bad health, bad eating habits, and worst of all, resentment against America.
We Americans must start changing our thirst for huge meals, and must controlled our, apparently, never ending desire of having things.
I have a small farm in Guatemala which is open to all poor people who need land to cultivate their corn for their own families. We get no subsidies. Many families want to cultivate but do not have even the minimum to purchase seeds, etc.
We must begin to recognize our responsibility with the entire world WE ARE NOT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD. We must stop being so arrogant.
Our government seems to be blind to this fact.

The reason that vegetable growers don't get subsidies is that vegetables are perishable. The Farm Bill was organized to make sure that we can feed our military in times of war. The subsides are paid so that the land can be used to grow non-perishable food in case our surplus runs down. The thing about food is that non-perishable will still spoil after a certain amount of time, so our reserves must be "rotated" just as the stock in restaurants are rotated to assure freshness. When a farmer takes his land out of the commodities program, that land is not safeguarding the implied growing capacity that the farmer is being paid for, so he should not expect to continue to receive payments.
The issue should not be to eliminate subsidies by ending the Farm Bill, instead the focus should be on supporting programs which encourage environmental stewardship,conservation, revitalization of rural communities, hunger issues associated with poverty in our own country, improvement of nutrition for all americans( and ultimately all people), and recreating local "food sheds" and local food economies. The subsides must be in place, we can't stop cold turkey. We need to support farmers, the people, not industrial farming But, there are vital programs which focus on the issues which I mentioned that exist within the Farm Bill; many of these programs will not have funding if we do not pass a new Farm Bill. Don't Kill the Bill, Fill the Bill (with sustainable agriculture programs that have mandatory funding.)

This farmer wants to plant vegetables, then he should plant vegetables. No law forbids him from raising his high priced organic stuff. Go ahead and plant.

Only in America does someone complain about the government and that subsidies are a bad thing, but then wants a government subsidy check anyway. Isn't that what this famer wants, a subsidy check for his veggies? As my farmer father used to say "these people hate the government but love the brown envelopes" (before direct deposit farmers got the check directly in brown envelopes). The lost subsidy couldn't be much anyway. Last year I had 85 acres planted in corn, got a 'huge' subsidy payment of 448$. Woooppeeeee!! I'm rich! This guy implies he is out over 8,000$. No way my friends... Just plain No-way.

Just some facts: the cost of subsidies from the 2008 farm bill are 8.1 billion/year (14% of 290 Billion over 5 years)
39 Billion/year goes for feeding the poor (67% of 290 Billion over 5 years).

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