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View Diary: U.S. Agricultural Policy: The Farm Bill Debate (Very Wonky) (45 comments)

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  •  Quick Question ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SciVo

    When agricultural subsidies were institutionalized during the New Deal era they kept the country fed

    How exactly did the large-scale destruction of crops and livestock called for under FDR's AAA "keep the country fed"? I was always under the impression that feeding people required that food be produced, not destroyed.

    •  Farmers were going belly-up from over production, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary Norton, BYw, SciVo

      no export markets, and too many commodities rotting on docks. U.S. citizens likewise could not afford to buy the crops either due to economic crisis at home. The payments were to make up the loss of revenue for the farmer temporarily so they wouldn't default on loans or quit producing altogether. 25% of the country farmed at the time. If we lost a sizable chunk of them, our own food security would be threatened, not for a year or so, but certainly ultimately. The idea then was to control production until both export markets picked up and the U.S. made it out of the Great Depression.

      •  Can't say it made perfect sense but it worked. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, BYw, SciVo

        Where the trouble came in was when the subsidies became institutionalized and then the Green Revolution increased yields dramatically.

        •  You must enter a subject for your comment. (0+ / 0-)

          Can't say it made perfect sense

          Understatement of the year.
          Also, do you think that the AAA, which subsidized current modes of production, hastened or delayed the Green Revolution? If it hastened it, which it did, what do you think the impacts were on long-term "food security"?

          •  I think you should read the whole piece (0+ / 0-)

            carefully. I'm against subsidies but I was attempting to explain the rationale at the time.

          •  oops (0+ / 0-)

            If it hastened it, which it did

            should be "delayed" -- not "hastened".

          •  Creating a Green Revolution (0+ / 0-)

            was the goal of the USDA back when Lincoln created it in 1864. The point was always to increase US exports of commodities. There are obvious problems w/that approach which I mention in the diary. Recessions, global market collapse, bad weather, bureaucratic ineptitude...

            •  You said... (0+ / 0-)

              above that "it worked". So what exactly worked?
              (I read the whole article, by the way)

              •  What worked (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Odysseus, BYw

                Farmers continued producing.
                Destitute families received food aid.
                Exports gradually increased.
                The US share of the international commodity market remains a large component of our overall economic well-being.

                •  and what didn't... (0+ / 0-)

                  Farmers continued producing.

                  Repeat, farmers were paid to NOT produce, and to destroy ... during a depression, no less!! This is BAD -- it should require no explanation.
                  And to be more precise, inneficient farming techniques were subsidized, thereby delaying the Green Revolution ... possibly by decades. Those who were more efficient had their competitive edge blunted by the subsidies to their less-efficient competition.
                  If FDR had been around 100 years ago, he would have "saved" the horse and buggy industry, and it would have been hailed as a "success".

                  Destitute families received food aid.

                  I wonder if the reduction/destruction of commodities had any relationship to their destitute status?

                  Exports gradually increased.

                  And imports gradually decreased. So what? Higher prices for producers means higher prices for the consumer as well. Boooo!!!  
                  Autarky is not good for the consumer... or anyone, really, in the long run. One famous person of that era realized that autarky required the expansion of his territory ... he called it "lebensraum".

      •  zzz (0+ / 0-)

        U.S. citizens likewise could not afford to buy the crops either due to economic crisis at home.

        So, raising food prices helped the US consumers?

        •  Sort of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus

          It helped farmers first and foremost. But yes it helped consumers because the USDA after acquiring commodities redistributed them to those in need. This was decades before Food Stamps and it was much cheaper to buy up the surplus and feed people than to cut Welfare checks. The consumers food dollar would have gone further but 25% of the country would have been in worse shape.

          •  not so much (0+ / 0-)

            it helped consumers because the USDA after acquiring commodities redistributed them to those in need.

            Many commodities were actually destroyed ... plowed under ... and other commodities were intentionally NOT produced, so the USDA only had a fraction of commodities left for redistribution.

            The consumers food dollar would have gone further but 25% of the country would have been in worse shape.

            So we should harm 75% in order to help the 25%?

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