Farming is feast or famine. Right now, farmers are in a feast year. Next year, they may not be. The subsidies in this bill are for a ten year period.
Subsidies have been an issue going all the way back to the Great Depression. You can listen to the Nixon-Kennedy debates of 1960 and hear the exact same points being argued that will probably be argued on today's program.
Market forces vs. subsidies. Farmers are responding to market forces when they decide now is a good time to plant more corn and less wheat. Subsidies artificially influence market forces. But do they act as a moderation force or do they do more harm than good?
Score another victory for ethanol scammer Archer Daniels Midland.
The "pro subsidy" folks frequently say that the subsidies are needed because the costs, fertilizer and fuel are high. I thought the subsidies are based on net income. Costs should make no difference in that case.
How would this bill have an effect on our taxes as a state. Would this cost other taxpayers more, would it bring in additonal taxes from other areas?
Farming subsidies in USA are choking lives out of farmers in many developing countries. It is morally irresponsible to continue the policies helping wealthy farmers who are majority beneficiaries of this bill. It is sad that policies are always driven by vote-bank politics instead of real concern for farmers.
That's a good point about the farmers in developing countries. The geopolitical consequences of our farming programs are going to have long range effects. Third World countries are less self-sufficient for food than they were decades ago, and that is a direct result of our policies, and we see the results today in the current world food crisis.
Airlifting and shipping food to starving countries is a temporary fix. We need to go back to the compassionate logic of "teach a man to fish, he eats for life". If we don't, we are going to see China's influence in Africa increase as they begin to help those nations stand on their own feet agriculturally they way we did in the "green revolution" of the 50s and 60s.
While I recognize more could have been done to reform farm payments, I feel the most important piece of the farm bill is the nutrition title--which makes substantial improvements in the Food Stamp Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) which provides USDA commodities to food banks like Oregon Food Bank.
The bill invests more than $10 billion dollars in the nutrition title over 10 years. 35.5 million Americans struggle against hunger and food insecurity--hundreds of thousands of them right here in Oregon. Our fellow Oregonians are in desperate need of more assistance through increases in food stamp benefits. The monthly food stamp benefit of $10 has not increased since 1977. Oregon Food Bank has seen a more than 50 percent decrease in USDA commodities just over the past four years.
This is an important bill that helps millions of hungry Americans and should be supported by Oregon members of Congress.
increasing competition is the best way to regulate prices. Corn prices are growing because so much is being used for fuel. If we legalized the use of hemp this would work just as well as corn and it would not dig into food prices in any way. It don't want to sound like a hippie but come on lets start talking common sense. How much does coporate lobbying power come into play in putting the farm industries where they are?
Oil extracted from hemp (also not trying to sound like a hippie) has more energy potential than corn does, it also grows much faster and requires less, if any, fertilizers than does corn. But energy corporations know these facts, and it's pretty safe to say that they will never allow the American public to receive the benefits of this possible ethanol source.
Wouldn't any crop being used for biofuel affect food prices because it would compete with food for land?
Just growing space was a big concern when I covered this issue in Europe.
Growing space is not as much of an issue in America, where the BLM has so much land, compared to Europe, where every inch of the continent is and has been greatly sought as a rarer and rarer commodity. The beauty of hemp is that it can be grown in just about any part of America, namely places that are undesirable or unsuitable for food based agriculture. Also, hemp produces so much more raw product per acre than corn or probably any food, that it would be better in regards to growth space efficiency. Lastly, because hemp is not a substitute or compliment product to foods in an economical sense (maybe minimally in some vegetarian stores, a negligible amount), it would drive up food prices only a small bit, if at all. Hemp as a fuel source makes so much sense that it is ridiculous that it is not being used.
Most farmers don't want subsidies. They want a fair price for their crop...but when it finally occurs, we have to worry about congressional hearings looking into remediating the "outrageous" prices we're receiving.
By historical standards, the price of wheat, a crop my family grows on 500 acres of prime land in Eastern Oregon...even the recent record prices they've received...is about one-third what it should be had the price simply increased equal to inflation.
When I worked up there as a kid with my grandfather, in 1974, the price of wheat hit $5 per bushel. 18 months ago, Christmas 2006, the price of wheat was exactly the same: $5 per bushel. Today, the price is about $8 per bushel.
In that time, the price of fuel has gone from say 75 cents per gallon to over $4. Prices of equipment have increased 3-fold or more. The cost of living has gone up nearly 500%.
If the price of wheat had simply increased with inflation, a bushel of wheat would be over $23, rather than the $8 or so it is today, or the record $13 it was at the beginning of this year.
I'm no fan of subsidies, but I dare say they've helped keep prices of food low, since if my family...and many others...had not received some sort of assistance, they wold be out of business and there would be much less grain being grown.
And if supplies go down, the current prices...or even the recent record prices...would look like an incredible bargain rather than something to label as a crisis.
By the way, a 500-acre farm, which averages about 100 bushels per acre...very good yields...can barely support two people. No wonder the family farm is becoming a misnomer.
Outstanding post, rich. Thanks for the insight.
I think one piece of this that's been missing here is the impact of commodity crop subsidies on the rural poor in the developing world. In Haiti, in Mexico, in Africa, below-cost US commodities drive poor farmers out of business, resulting in rural villages that are ghost towns, and countries that are not self sufficient in terms of food.
For Americans who may not care about this, consider that the economic crisis of the Mexican and Central American countryside is one of major sources of the desparation of people willing to risk their lives to immigrate to the US.
I believe that issue here is two fold. One why are we giving welfare to the riches farms in the USA. The second point is why we adding all of this entitlements to specific bills. I agreed with state rep, we need to pass specific bills not these huge bills like Farm bill load with welfare for the riches farms. Why not the general tax payers are upset and outrage about the fact many pork?s are slip into bills that have nothing to do we the original bill. This practice must stop, since this is the fleecing of America today.
The 2008 Farm Bill is a mixed bag, and Rep. Blumenauer's vote reveals the complexity of the legislation. Bread for the World views the farm bill through the lens of hunger. How do our food & farm policies affect hungry and poor people, here in the U.S. and around the world?
No one can dispute the record increases for federal nutrition programs. The improvements to TEFAP, the Food Stamp Program, fruit & vegetable pilot programs will provide desperately needed relief for American families struggling to put food on the table as prices increase exponentially.
At the same time, the farm bill is lousy for hungry and poor people overseas. It does nothing to help the cotton farmers in Africa, who cannot compete with the artificially low prices of subsidized U.S. cotton. For 10 million people whose livelihood directly depends on cotton, our farm policies make it that much harder for them to escape the cycle of hunger and poverty. These are people who make $1 - $2 a day.
Consider the McGovern-Dole school lunch program, which has fed and educated millions of kids in developing countries. The Senate severely decreased the $840 million proposed by the house to $84 million--all amid a global hunger crisis.
At the same time, Congress has instituted yet another commodity program, which will primarily benefit crop farmers in a few states. That very fact is evidence that the commodity programs defended by Big Ag are not really working after all.
So, this farm bill represents half a loaf for hungry people. Bread for the World, a national Christian citizens' movement against hunger, cannot in good conscience either support or oppose the farm bill passed by Congress.
Many would say that this farm bill is "the best we can do." We as Americans can do better.
People of faith, environmentalists, aid groups, taxpayer groups, nutrition advocates and many others will not be daunted by the lack of reform in the commodity title of this farm bill. As Speaker of the House Pelosi said this week, "this will be the last time the farm bill looks like this." If Americans continue to rise up, we can make it happen.
Shawnda Hines, from Bread for the World's office in Portland, Oregon
You can find out more about farm subsidies at the Environmental Working Group.
And when there, go to their database to look up names and dollars associated with Oregonians who get subsidies.
The Oregon Center for Public Policy wrote about The Farm Subsidy Scheme years ago.
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