A great piece on the problems with subsidization of farms and the cultural and economic impact on America. One thing I didn’t know was that most subsidies go to five crops: corn, soybeans, rice, wheat, and cotton. Often you get republicans invoking security reasons for why they support farm subsidies…like, if we don’t subsidize corn we’ll be at the mercy of Brazilian sugar farmers. There is a lot of profit to be found in non-subsidized crops and livestock out there. We aren’t at the mercy of Argentinian cattle ranchers either. An interesting excerpt from a wonderful piece:

Jefferson’s “cultivators of the earth” didn’t have genetically engineered seeds or 530-horsepower tractors. They had 1-horsepower horses. And they didn’t have subsidies either. In fact, most antebellum farmers opposed all federal aid to private enterprise, assuming it would just enrich manufacturing élites. The lesson of Husker Harvest Days is that modern farmers–at least the ones with most of the land and subsidies–are a new manufacturing élite. They just happen to be manufacturing food and fiber. Production agriculture is a high-tech, globalized business with economies of scale. You don’t buy a $410,000 combine to farm the back 40.

The renewed call for farm policy reform
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  • This reminds me of my dearly departed Grandfather-in-law, an Angus cattle farmer down in South Louisiana. He would often tell the story about how the Fed would call him up once a year and tell him that he qualified for subsidies. His response?…every year:

    “Keep ya money. If a fella can’t make it farming, he probably needs to go do something else for a living.”

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