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In a recent front page story in The Gazette, (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Iowa Democrats opposed Democratic farm bill principles, and spoke like Republicans instead, saying that they historical Democratic approach of running farm programs like a business was obsolete, out of date. In contrast farm bill welfarism, long touted by Republicans and, more recently by "New Democrats," was admired. This was all then rebutted one week later in a guest opinion.

The original article was:

 “Farm bill inaction could turn clock back to 1949,”“Today’s farm program: welfare,” 9/2/12.

This was then greatly expanded, with footnotes as follows:

Brad Wilson, "Farm Bill: Turn Back? Take Back the Clock!" zspace, 9/3/12.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue denim

    "We're trying to warn this nation of a tidal wave ..., and it's coming your way, whether you want to know it or not...!" family farm woman, Donahue Show, 1985

    by Iowa Farm Activist on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 04:30:08 PM PDT

  •  The first link is broken ("hhttp:") (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue denim

    Thank you for this, but I'm afraid it's still hard to follow for those of us who are unacquainted with the basic parameters (price floor, etc.).  How could corn possibly be sold below cost for almost 30 years?

    •  Thanks for the dialogue. We need it! (0+ / 0-)

      This question comes up whenever people take the time to study this issue.  The first answer is that farmers went out of business, massively, under these changes.  Those who survived often lost their livestock operations to CAFOs, (ie. sold off their breeding stock and equipment to survive), and then did not reinvest in facilities, fences, etc., so they have lower value farms (except that land values often rose, but also crashed during the 1980s).

      The statistic is that farmers received no return on their investments of capital, but in it, they got paid for their own labor (unpaid labor) but on below zero years had to draw on this to pay for losses. So then their labor, at times, dropped to minimum wage and below. I have some stats on that, though ERS doesn't release their specific standards for unpaid labor.  I think it was around $9 around 1990.

      Farmers have good tax write-offs, which don't help much if you make no money, but which enable those with high off farm income, or outside investors, to do tax-loss farming. There are wide variations in rent. An old widow, (or a single parent woman I know) might get much less in rent (ie. half), or family purposely subsidizes rent.  Inheritance helps. It's clear that those who have survived now have higher total household income (higher off farm income), which is then used to say farmers are doing well. See some great discussions of that here: "Boom for Whom? Do high crop prices benefit family farmers?"

      See the Joel Greeno interview, under "Food Sleuth," here,  www.kopn.org, for some examples of the answer related to dairy (radio show, 6/3/10).

      Here's a blog that has some examples. "Family Farm Diabetes: Foodies, Farm Justice “Allies” and 'The Big Hog'".

      As someone repeatedly confronting the food movement, etc. on these issues, I find it rare for the leaders (who misunderstand this whole topic, where the food movement supports, unknowingly, Mega-Ag-Biz, with zero price floor proposals,) to be willing to engage in dialogue about it.

      Farming is a gamble, and volatility means there are winners who survive and losers. Many who survive get cheap stuff from the huge mass of losers. There are incredible stories about that. The farm bill is also a gamble. For example, we've had a forced choice between DCP (Direct & CounterCyclical Payments) Vs ACRE (revenue Insurance). One will pay more, maybe much more, but you don't know in advance, so the government pays some much less, saves money in the name of choice, as the programs fail to help them.  Meanwhile you hear the stories of others getting too much, reinforcing farmer bashing.

      There are many ways that some farmers have survived, and I've been meaning to interview other farm justice leaders about this and collect a long list of answers.  Ok, they have spouses who provide health insurance, or they don't have insurance.  

      "We're trying to warn this nation of a tidal wave ..., and it's coming your way, whether you want to know it or not...!" family farm woman, Donahue Show, 1985

      by Iowa Farm Activist on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 03:52:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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