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View Diary: Richard Nixon and the 2000 Mile Tomato (84 comments)

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  •  Seems like (10+ / 0-)

    perhaps the strategic way to approach the farm problem is like the Republicans have approached SS over the years: 1) scream about how we can't afford it and 2) introduce one small cut after another.  I had thought in fact that farm subsidies had been cut substantially over the last several decades.

    There are good reasons for some subsidies.  We used to (in Nixon's time, I recall!) bitch about paying farmers NOT to grow things in order to support prices.  But subsidy payments for taking land out of full-tilt "production" in order to conserve water tables, ecological sanctuaries and soil fertility is a win-win over the long term.  And food is a STRATEGIC necessity.  Look at the history of Germany in the world wars.  No nation that wants to be free of coercion by embargo can afford to outsource its food supply.

    Second, if we're talking about means-testing Medicare, certainly we ought to means-test farm subsidies.  The monster producers that are taking profit out of the land in addition to the costs of paying everyone involved in doing the actual work don't need government support.  I'm sure someone who actually knows how the system works could suggest a dozen small cutbacks that could form a coherent restraint over agribusiness abuses over time.

    Let me make something clear.  I married a hereditary family farmer once.  The family hasn't been able to support itself by farming for two generations, but that doesn't mean that they don't continue to plow down ten acres of garden every year and raise crops and livestock in addition to carrying your standard nine-hour working days away from home.  I learned the greatest of respect for people who are willing to risk their entire livelihood on the most unreliable of forces: The Weather.  But people aren't corporations, and corporations, which provide most of the commodity foods today, aren't people.  So my idea of "leveling the playing field" is anything that forces corporations and capital backers to deal with the same limitations faced by ordinary people who actually do the work.

    •  One of your suggestions was actually put into (12+ / 0-)

      the draft 2012 farm bill (which, by the way, expired because a certain group of people in Congress couldn't get their sh*t together).

      Means testing. I don't know the exact numbers but it would have limited who would qualify for subsidies and whittle out those notorious "moochers," one of which is:

      At least 43 percent of ADM's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM's corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30
      The other idea that was inserted was shifting some subsidies from commodities over to specialty crops (carrots, lettuce, broccoli, etc) and towards programs that would encourage organic and sustainable farming methods but, again, a certain group in Congress stripped both out.

      So ADM still lives on the dole and specialty crop farmers get no help. High fructose corn syrup gets subsidized but tomatoes and carrots can go take a hike. I bet you can guess who it was in Congress that stripped all that out.

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