Sunday, July 11, 2010


It's a good thing we have the Internet these days. Seriously. Otherwise how would anyone get the truth or what it means anymore? Take the CJ's latest on Rand Paul and his opposition to farm subsidies Joseph Gerth Rand Paul's stand on farm subsidies, drug program raises concerns The Courier-Journal.

Let's define subsidy. Webster's defines subsidy as: a grant or gift of money as:

a : a sum of money formerly granted by the British Parliament to the crown and raised by special taxation
b : money granted by one state to another
c : a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public

According to the article by Joe Gerth, Rand is accused of being against farm subsidies period. Of course in keeping with States issues of keeping their own money this would not be unexpected to a degree. Rand has been on record, and it is even mentioned in Gerth's article, that he wants to focus on waste in the farm subsidy program and on subsidies that go to farmers who earn more than $2million a year, instead of taking aim at the family farmers who rely on subsidies to stay in business.

You see this actually makes a lot of sense for several reasons the most prominent being that the subsidy program is not going to the family farms it was intended to help.

Just 10% of America's largest and richest farms collect almost three-fourths of federal farm subsidies. This means that the other 90% get shafted essentially.

Corporate farms are this 10% and they get most of the money. In fact the family farms get very little if any at all. From 1995-2009 the largest and wealthiest top 10 percent of farm program recipients received an average total payment over 15 years of $445,127 per recipient. The bottom 80 percent of farmers received an average total payment of just $8,682 per recipient.

According to EWG EWG Farm Subsidy Database, in 2009, a full 60 percent of farm subsidies flowed to States represented by Senators serving on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Nice tie in huh?

Congressional Districts represented on the House Committee on Agriculture received 37 percent of all farm subsidies that year. Members representing four out of the top five Districts in terms of farm subsidies serve on the House Agriculture Committee. Is it any wonder it is an uphill climb to reform farm subsidies?

Ten states, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, California, South Dakota and Missouri, accounted for 56 percent of total subsidies in 2009.

Cut it any way you like but the numbers don't add up to being an equal process. And therein lies the problem and Rand may be right. Farming subsidies were designed to protect the small farmer with the family business from losing their um "asset" in hard times but through the years it has gotten to be a free money end game for corporate farms to enhance their bottom lines.

How so? By paying corporate owners for nothing more than owning land labeled for farming.

This is designed to stabilize prices and keeps farmers from going broke through excessively low prices. The only problem is that most of the money does not go to the farmer but to the corporation that bought the land cheap. They get the free money to enhance their bottom line for profits.

We aren't talking pennies here. Washington paid out a quarter of a trillion dollars in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2009.

It gets better.

As the farm policy debate raged throughout 2007 and 2008, corn growers made a point of saying that the farm legislation they were focused on would be coming out of the energy committees. Sure enough, the resulting 2007 energy bill mandated American drivers to put 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol in their tanks every year by 2015, with accompanying tax breaks to gasoline blenders that already approximate the $5 billion spent each year on automatic direct payments. Since not even those government props have been sufficient to maintain profitability, the corn ethanol industry has been laying siege to Capitol Hill and the White House to increase the mix of ethanol in gasoline by 50 percent. Next will come a demand to expand the 15 billion gallon annual mandate to 20 billion gallons or more of corn ethanol.

All designed to force us to pay more subsidies to corporate farms.

Bottom line is this. Not everything is as simple as the mainstream would lead us to believe.

Is Paul against ALL farm subsidies? I don't know but the fact he will visit the issue should lead to better accountability to the self serving corporate interests and that can't be too bad can it?

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Yours truly,
Ed Springston


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