Recently at Reason.tv: Agricultural Subsidies as Corporate Welfare for Farmers

"The government is bailing out the banks...but who's going to bail out the government?" asks Texas cotton farmer Ken Gallaway, a vocal critic of agricultural subsidies that cost U.S. taxpayers and consumers billions of dollars a year in direct payments and higher prices for farm goods.

Agricultural subsidies were put in place in the 1930s during the Great Depression, when 25 percent of Americans lived on farms. At the time, Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace called them "a temporary solution to deal with an emergency." Those programs are still in place today, even though less than 1 percent of Americans currently live on farms that are larger, more efficient, and more productive than ever before.

Consider these facts. Ninety percent of all subsidies go to just five crops: corn, rice, cotton, wheat, and soybeans. Two thirds of all farm products-including perishable fruits and vegetables-receive almost no subsidies. And just 10 percent of recipients receive 75 percent of all subsidies. A program intended to be a "temporary solution" has become one of our government's most glaring examples of corporate welfare. 

U.S. taxpayers aren't the only ones who pay the price. Cotton subsidies, for example, encourage overproduction which lowers the world price of cotton. That's great for people who buy cotton, but it's disastrous for already impoverished cotton farmers in places such as West Africa.

U.S. farm programs cost taxpayers billions each year, significantly raise the price of commodities such as sugar (which is protected from competition from other producers in other countries), undermine world trade agreements, and contribute to the suffering of poor farmers around the world. It's bad public policy, especially in these troubled economic times.

"Agricultural Subsidies: Corporate Welfare for Farmers" is hosted by Reason.tv's Nick Gillespie and is approximately 8.30 minutes long. The producer-writer is Paul Feine and the producer-editor is Roger Richards.

For an audio podcast version, go here.

For more videos in Reason.tv's award-winning Drew Carey Project series, go here.

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  • ||

    We need to develop a campaign to shame all recepients of gvt. money. It needs to be over the top and relentless. It need not concenrn itself with lilly livered libertarians who fear how such a campaign might reflect upon us.

  • ||

    "Ninety percent of all subsidies go to just five crops: corn, rice, cotton, wheat, and soybeans."

    By a not so astounding coincidence, all of these are bad for your health if ingested.

  • Elemenope||

    We need to develop a campaign to shame all recepients of gvt. money. It needs to be over the top and relentless. It need not concenrn itself with lilly livered libertarians who fear how such a campaign might reflect upon us.

    Unless you don't use roads or telephones, you best start the shaming with yourself.

    I'm curious, what would a campaign of relentless self-shame look like?

  • ||

    "Unless you don't use roads or telephones, you best start the shaming with yourself."

    Because as we all know from reading alt.politics.libertarian, IN A LIBERTARIAN WORLD THERE ARE NO ROADS.

  • Taktix®||

    Consider these facts:

    100% of the first votes cast in the primaries at cast in Iowa.

    Sorry folks, we're going to be stuck with this one for a long time...

  • Elemenope||

    Because as we all know from reading alt.politics.libertarian, IN A LIBERTARIAN WORLD THERE ARE NO ROADS.

    No, jackass, it's because *in the world we live in RIGHT NOW*, the roads were built by the government from tax money.

    So anyone who uses those roads out here IN THE REAL WORLD is guilty of being a beneficiary of government expenditure.

  • ||

    Your nerdrage is showing. You might want to have that looked at by someone who cares.

  • Distinguished Gentleman||

    My dad raises cattle on the side because it makes him feel like a cowboy. It's impossible for him to fail. We usually lose money, or gain a little but no matter what our expenses are largely written off and we are paid back our losses. I've always known it was bullshit.
    The thing is, most rural congressional districts believe farming is romantic and noble because they have relatives or grandparents that did it. It would take a massive education drive, like playing this before movies at the theatre before any opposition would come up. So yeah, we may be doomed.

  • Kolohe||

    Your nerdrage is showing.

    I thought he had to have less than 20% hitpoints?

  • Elemenope||

    I thought he had to have less than 20% hitpoints?

    LOL. Nah, I think my inappropriate use of capital letters made him horny and he lost control.

    When you don't get sex much, almost anything can set off an "attack".

  • ||

    When you don't get sex much, almost anything can set off an "attack".

    It's good to see that projection is alive and well.

  • Elemenope||

    It's good to see that projection is alive and well.

    ROFL!

  • ||

    100% of the first votes cast in the primaries at cast in Iowa.



    And yet McCain went to Iowa and said he was against farm subsidies. He said he was against ethanol subsidies as well. He did claim that at $120/barrel oil, ethanol might be competitive with gas, but even in that same paragraph of his speech reiterated that it should be without subsidy.

    More importantly, people who like farm subsidies vote for the farm subsidy candidate. Approximately no one voted for McCain over Obama because of Senator McCain's much better record on farm subsidies. But some farmers did vote for Obama because of subsidies.

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