Farm Subsidies and False Premises

Negotiators [on a proposed milk price support bill] are…working out how farm subsidies should be restructured in the absence of a traditional subsidy called direct payments, which are paid to farmer regardless of crop price or crop yield.  Both chambers’ bills would eliminate this $5 billion annual subsidy in response to critics who say it pays farmers not to farm.  But they have argued over how to replace those payments, with major farm groups squabbling over whether subsidies should kick in based on crop prices or farmer revenue, and how to count the acreage on which the subsidies are based.

Unfortunately for our pocketbooks, those negotiators are operating from a false premise: that the subsidies need to be revised in any way.  The only ones who benefit from these subsidies in any large way are the large agribusinesses and the “farm state” politicians supported by them.  Mom and pop farms?  Not so much.  On top of that, though, us food eaters are materially harmed by the subsidies through the artificially inflated prices we have to pay for food that those subsidies create.  And the poor among us are harmed the most by those inflated prices.  Additionally, us taxpayers are harmed a second—and third—time by having to pay for those subsidies that are driving our prices up and by having to pay for the food stamps that are used to mitigate for the poor those artificially inflated prices.

No.  The subsidies need to be done away with: “replace” them altogether through a bill that eliminates all of the farm subsidies, which ding us for $25 billion annually.  That seed then lets the much larger $80 billion/yr food stamp program to be drastically reduced, if not eliminated altogether, since most of those remaining who truly need help would generally be within the resources of their local communities and states.

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