Monday, September 26, 2011

Farm Politics

A good story from NPR. (Does NPR do any other kind?)

This quote seems to catch the gist of it: "According to the Environmental Working Group's crunch of USDA numbers, between 1995 and 2010, 10 percent of farmers who received subsidies took home three-quarters of farm subsidy dollars. About 62 percent of American farmers don't receive any subsidies at all, according to 2007 data."

When FDR created the idea of farm subsidies it was to keep poor farmers on their farms during years of low commodity prices, and to help stabilize the prices of those commodities. It worked. Since then, though, farms have consolidated into immense businesses. Agri-business owns farmland. Farming has gone corporate, and the corporate side of farming is taking most of the subsidies. To borrow a farm analogy, the larger pigs have a way of shouldering the smaller ones away from the trough. Wrong? Maybe not, but we should know what is going on. There are good reasons for having small farms, family farms, just as there are good reasons for having small towns. But is modern farm legislation helping either?

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