Skip to comments.Jimmy Carter: U.S. farm subsidies' harvest of misery
Posted on 12/11/2007 7:45:04 AM PST by SmithL
Congress can still act decisively this year to right a wrong that is hurting both small American farmers and the poorest people on the planet. A long-overdue debate is taking place on reform of the 1933 farm bill, passed during the Great Depression to alleviate the suffering of America's family farmers. I was a farm boy then, and the primary cash crops on my father's farm were peanuts and cotton. My first paying job was working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, measuring farmers' fields to ensure that they limited their acreage and total production in order to qualify for the life-sustaining farm subsidy prices.
Tragically, in its current form this legislation does not fulfill its original purposes but instead encourages excess production while channeling enormous government payments to the biggest producers. This product of powerful lobbyists now punishes small-scale farmers in the United States and is devastating to families in many of the world's least affluent countries.
It is embarrassing to note that, from 1995 to 2005, the richest 10 percent of cotton growers received more than 80 percent of total subsidies. The wealthiest 1 percent of American cotton farmers continues to receive over 25 percent of payouts for cotton, while more than half of America's cotton farmers receive no subsidies at all.
American farmers are not dependent on the global market because they are guaranteed a minimum selling price by the federal government.
American producers of cotton received more than $18 billion in subsidies between 1999 and 2005, while market value of the cotton was $23 billion. That's a subsidy of 86 percent!
The Carter Center works primarily among the world's poorest people, including those in West Africa whose scant livelihood depends on cotton production....
(Excerpt) Read more at sacbee.com ...
there are a few things where carter is conservative. For example he was for Civil Service Reform
Don't feel bad. I actually voted for him.
I think he is correct about the farm subsidies because he is a farmer and he understands farming. He should have stayed out of politics.
“My first paying job was working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture”
That figures, given Carter’s love of bureaucracy.
Look for mission creep from the USDA!!!!!
American producers of cotton received more than $18 billion in subsidies between 1999 and 2005, while market value of the cotton was $23 billion. That’s a subsidy of 86 percent!
Hes actually making the case for the ceasing of the subsidies and moving cotton production overseas.
One of the biggest areas of “being paid to NOT grow something” comes about from this simple fact:
1. Farmers own land.
2. Environmentalists, city folks, hunters/anglers and urban planners want to be able to tell farmers how to manage their land - because while these pecksniffs don’t own the land, they think they know better than the farmer what to do with the land.
So we have the CRP - Conservation Reserve Program, where farmers are paid to enroll acres that are deemed “sensitive” (usually because they’re wildlife habitat) into the CRP, whereby the gummint pays the farmer to keep those acres “set aside” and not farmed, hayed or grazed.
Then there are several new programs that have come out since 1996 to pay farmers to do things the non-farmers want done with the land.
These programs aren’t the majority of the money, but they make for the majority of the perception - ie, “farmers being paid to not farm.” The old program(s) that brought about that perception were based on production quotas and “enrolled acres” - that system was gone and done in 1996.
If we pulled the government out of the ag sector, what would probably happen is that prices would have a period of disruption and dislocations, as various land usage changes rapidly, then certain crops would start to find an equilibrium in planting acres and pricing.
The prices for some crops would go up, others would go down, etc. The consumer would do a bunch of ranting and wailing during this time, because you’d see some big price swings in food products over a series of years as the market sorted itself out.
This wailing and whining would bring about calls from the Congress to “do something!” again, which champions of “the poor” would be supporting.
What we have now in ag policy is a result of 70+ years of meddling, and some very poor policy choices made as a result of short-term thinking. Farming isn’t for the short of attention span, and farm economics is much different than other business economics in that farms are businesses yes, but they get to respond to market forces only once/year. Other businesses, esp. service businesses, can respond to market forces with lightening speed.
Farmers can’t do that. Once the spring starts and the seed is in the ground, a farmer is committed as few other businesses are. His next decision point come after harvest, when he decides what to do with the crop and what to plant next year. These economics policy wonks completely miss this when talking about “market signals” to farmers, and it makes them look as dumb as stumps when talking about ag policy in front of Congress with the various farm groups in the same hearing.
What is needed, IMO, is to get these goofball academics and idiots from the think tanks out of the room, sit down farm groups with Congress and budget analysts and map out how to withdraw subsidies from the market on a staged basis. Keep the theoreticians out of the room, because they’re so absurdly wrong when they open their mouths that the farm groups get a mad on in a hurry, dig in their heels and won’t budge until they start hearing some common sense.
He’s absolutely right on this one.
My goodness - he’s right!!!
Farm Subsidies — one of the vote buyer’s best friends.
Of all the things he's ever written or said, I find this to be the easiest to believe.
I don’t disagree at all. In other words, make it clear that the subsidies will be incrementally reduced to $0 in X years. Then get the farm groups together to figure out the least painful and least disruptive way to do that. Nothing to argue with there. Now, implementing that...
I have a theory that someone has been tazering him, with increasing regularity [hilarity?]
“Don’t taze me Gore!”
A taser would have no effect on Jimmy Carter.
Everyone knows that you can’t taze (or polish) a turd.
He’d rather try Collectivization, after all it worked so well for his heroes.
This must be that famous stopped clock I’ve been hearing so much about.
If Carter is against it then I have this unspeakable compulsion to support it even though I usually oppose such things.
Thanks for that. I’ve received Imprimis in the mail for years, but somehow missed that one.
It really says it all, doesn’t it ?
Wait a minute. I was told by Dan Rather he was a nucleur physicist!