Skip to comments.The Cotton Club
Posted on 10/15/2007 5:36:57 PM PDT by shrinkermd
It is believed, with some cause, that partisanship is the reason "nothing gets done" in Washington. So what if there was an issue, involving the poorest of the poor, on which there was bipartisan agreement, and still nothing got done? Our most battle-scarred readers will guess immediately what is at issue -- farm subsidies!
At the moment, the sun and moon have aligned to form a left-right coalition to raise the lot of some of Africa's farmers. Arguably the greatest misfortune to befall these farmers is their crop: cotton. In the U.S., the lords of King Cotton still have the Washington political system locked up to ensure a steady flow of subsidies, no matter how outrageous. This year, a coalition to unlock the subsidy programs includes Oxfam America on the left, the Environmental Working Group more or less in the center and the Cato Institute on the right.
In a June 2007 study on the effects of U.S. subsidies on West African cotton producers, University of California Davis economists Daniel Sumner and Julian Alston, and Henrich Brunke, formerly a research specialist at UC Davis, estimated that some 10 million Africans could see their incomes from cotton increase 8% to 20% if the U.S. reformed its subsidies and world supplies of cotton returned to market levels.
One reason the cotton program persists is that it has been made so arcane that it is fully understood only by the farmers who benefit and some gnomes at the Agriculture Department.
...In 2005 cotton subsidies totaled $3.3 billion, up from $30 million in 1995, according to the Environmental Working Group, which tracks U.S. subsidies. This industrial policy primarily benefits large corporate farms and their wealthy owners.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Link to 2007 USDA budget:
Lest one forgets or is unaware, the USDA budget includes the Food Stamp Program, and commodity (grain) loans which are counted only as expense to the budget even though they are paid back, housing loans, and soil conservation funds. Page 9 has a breakdown of the budget.
Oops, page 4 has the budget breakdown. Sorry.
Then Bush Jr. defended the steel subsidy, now this.