Farm Subsidies

Not Exactly Pol Pot, but Obama Does Want To "Encourage Young People to Become Farmers"

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From Obama-Messiah's mesmerizing Change.gov website, the part about the Obama-Biden (Biden!) plan for rural Americans:

Encourage Young People to Become Farmers: Establish a new program to identify and train the next generation of farmers. Provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm.

More, including a pledge to pass a "packer ban" and "encourage local and organic agriculture," here.

As the grandson of peasant farmers from Ireland and Italy, and as a guy who worked in a pantyliner factory and as a UPS truck-unpacker for awhile, all I can tell you is, Thank god I'm not growing up in Obama's America!

And for the uninitiated, there are already plenty of programs designed to identify and train the next generation of farmers. For instance, in the small, semi-rural town in Ohio where I live, there's the 4-H and FFA clubs (look 'em up), not to mention parents. And ag schools galore across this sweet land of liberty.

In any case, as Reason's Ron Bailey, who grew up on a farm, has written, there's a good reason that fewer of us than ever are living the Green Acres dream, and it's not simply because we get allergic smelling hay:

Family farms are not declining because of some conspiracy by industrial ag giants. Actually, what happened is that farmers became so productive that we needed fewer of them. In 1950, 15 percent of Americans lived on farms. Today only 1 percent of us live on farms. The meantime, the output of staples like wheat and corn nearly tripled, while vegetables nearly quadrupled. And the amount of land devoted to crops fell slightly. This dramatically increased agricultural productivity liberated many like me from farm labor so that we could do other work.

Bailey notes, "My sister stayed on [the farm upon which we were raised] and eventually inherited it. She's happy where she is and I'm damned happy where I am." Which is anywhere but a farm.

More here.

And watch Green Acres classic opening here:

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  1. This country has far too many farmers, which is why hardly any small to mid-size farms can exist without a myriad of subsidies and price supports. Obama should be encouraging the children of farmers to say screw the family business.

  2. This is idiotic. Methinks he’s trying to appease farmers whos subsidies he’s planning to yank.

    Make that “mehopes”.

    The last thing we should be doing right now is increasing farm subsidies, but then Obama might be caving into the current fad for government subsidies for everything and everyone. Banks, car companies, local government, farmers, health care, …. neverending list.

  3. Bailey notes, “My sister stayed on [the farm upon which we were raised] and eventually inherited it. She’s happy where she is and I’m damned happy where I am.” Which is anywhere but a farm.

    In the 11th grade I played a prank where I showed up in almost every club’s photo shoot for the yearbook. It worked out great, except to get me back the yearbook staff listed me as a member of the Future Farmer’s of America underneath the group photo, but did not acknowledge me for any other club, even the one for which I really was a member.

  4. Provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm.

    Finally, a giveaway for me (and for all the other highly-compensated professionals who want to buy a little place in the country)!

    I’m feelin’ the Hope now, baby!

  5. I haven’t RTFA’d yet, but tell me this is a tempest in a teapot, because this ‘great leap forward’ shit in the wake of this so-called economic crisis is getting scary.

  6. If Obama is going to force me to farm, I am growing grapes and staying drunk all day.
    BTW Green Acres is in my top ten sitcoms of all time. Great Reference.

  7. As has been mentioned, 4h, FFA etc… already do this. So the bigger general question here is this…

    Is consolidation of production into the hands of a few large producers better for any industry?

    Or, is a distributed network of small producers more likely to result in innovations?

    Does the government have an interest in providing incentives for one model over the other?

    We may have fewer farmers than we used to because of the efficiency of centralized/industrial farming…or due to distortion resulting from subsidies.

    It is possible that the industry does not innovate as quickly as a result of these factors, however.

  8. Prevent Anticompetitive Behavior Against Family Farms: Pass a packer ban. When meatpackers own livestock they can manipulate prices and discriminate against independent farmers.

    Support Small Business Development: Provide capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises, like cooperative marketing initiatives and farmer-owned processing plants.

    I guess farmer-owned processing plants aren’t meatpackers

  9. So, it’s sort of like the Khmer Rouge, forcing people to farm, except it’s also like the 4H?

  10. Is this the change I can believe in?

  11. This program is targeted for me. Who else has a family background in agriculture yet no chance of owning a farm in this country?

    It’s not like I’m going to StateU A&M and getting a degree in agribusiness.

  12. Does this mean I get free money for my backyard garden? If not, he can fuck off.

  13. So, how does this play in the heartland? I’m just some city slicker who thinks even 4H is goofy, and am pretty divorced from rural sodbusters. But is this an idea that gains traction with folks from the farm belt?

  14. My dad grew up on a farm. Left it at 18. Came back for a couple of harvests after his father died, but he always lived in towns and cities after that. Had absolutely no desire to farm.

  15. joe, I believe the title was explicitly saying it was not like the Khmer Rouge. Feeling defensive today?

  16. So, I can get the feds to help my buy 40 acres and start a vineyard/winery for my retirement years?

  17. So long as Obama doesn’t say “This is the Year Zero” in his inauguration speech, I’m not going to say anything.

  18. MikeB,

    Be sure to stock your farm with illegals. Then you can be a lord of farmers. Also, if you can catch him, put LONEWACKO in chains and use him as a foot stool.

  19. In fairness, anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?

    I mean, they’re charging a lot of money for this stuff.

  20. How about reversing the insane tax policies that drive consolidation of agriculture into behemoths like Cargil and ADM?

    -jcr

  21. RC Dean: Finally, a giveaway for me (and for all the other highly-compensated professionals who want to buy a little place in the country)!

    Basically. Subsidies for early retirement for the Prius set. At least they generally make good food to sell at the farmer’s market, so it’s not as galling as throwing a few billion at the UAW.

  22. This strikes me as similar to Michelle Obama’s speech in which she urged her (Ohio?) listeners to stay in the community and take jobs in teaching and nursing and social work. It seemed rather condescending and hypocritical coming from someone making $300K+ as a “vice president of community relations” or whatever.

  23. How about reversing the insane tax policies that drive consolidation of agriculture into behemoths like Cargil and ADM?

    What? Next you’ll be telling me deregulation is a hoax.

    And- If Obama wants to pay me not to grow corn, I’ll gladly let him know where to send the check.

  24. Is consolidation of production into the hands of a few large producers better for any industry?

    Yes. We do not need 35 auto manufacturers like we had in the early 20th century.

    Or, is a distributed network of small producers more likely to result in innovations?

    Depends on the industry, doesn’t it? If the garage entrepeneur is more innovative that the corporate behemoth, she should be able to make an honset buck or two. Neither Bill Gates or Ray Kroc were corporate underlings when they started.

    Does the government have an interest in providing incentives for one model over the other?

    No. Enumerated powers and all of that.

    We may have fewer farmers than we used to because of the efficiency of centralized/industrial farming…or due to distortion resulting from subsidies.

    Subsidies have been sold to the public for scores of years as aiding the family farm. Unless the exalted FDR and his ideological offspring have been conducting a 70+ year bait and switch on the electorate, subsidies have helped prolong the viability of the (all genuflect) family farm.

    It is possible that the industry does not innovate as quickly as a result of these factors, however.

    Anything is possible. Just not likely. It is difficult to percieve US agriculture as backwards, lacking innovation.

  25. Establish a new program to identify and train the next generation of farmers.

    I mean it’s not like anybody would know how to farm without government telling them how. Next thing you know someone will try and tell you that people have been learning to be farmer’s for thousands of years without government help. Crazy!

  26. And when does the family porn store/jack-off parlor get some love from DC?

    The link is actually worth a read.

  27. NM,

    Is consolidation of production into the hands of a few large producers better for any industry?

    In some cases, yes.

    Or, is a distributed network of small producers more likely to result in innovations?

    In some other cases, most assuredly.

    Does the government have an interest in providing incentives for one model over the other?

    Nope. And not just becuase Im almost 100% sure they could never get which is which correct.

  28. joe,

    So, it’s sort of like the Khmer Rouge, forcing people to farm, except it’s also like the 4H?

    Sort of a Light Scolding Fields.

  29. Does cultivating marijuana count as farming? If so sign me up for some government money to get my grow op up and growing!

  30. I grew up on a farm too. My dad’s farm went under in the mid-1980’s along with a lot of others. And the whole farm credit crisis was a government created mess.

    I still have some family and friends in farming. Their attitude toward subsidies is something like this” “You can get rid of all of the subsidies tomorrow as long as you take all of the other government farm programs along with them. But if they are going to tell us what we can grow and what we can do with our own land then they can damned well pay us for it.”

  31. While reading this, was anyone else struck with the mad urge to hack change.guv and add a line about shooting all college graduates and people who wear glasses in the head?

  32. Ok, but at least, Il Duce [Obama] does not want young lads to work the CANE FIELDS . . . Not yet, anyway!

  33. The current farm supports system is sacred to agribusiness giants like Cargill and ADM. No one can touch it, not because of Johnny Farmer but because of Bobby Businessman. If Obama tries toc hange agricultural policy against the current insane overproduction model (ushered in under Nixon by Earl Butz), he’ll have an onslaught of lobbying from corporations than benefit from the current fascist arrangement. Interesting that people say there are too many farms and such when the real issue is corporate abuse of govnerment policy, not farmer abuse. The farmers were better off before the government paid them to yield 200 bushels of corn per acre when 150 bushels was already too much yield for demand. But the corporations need that cheap subdized corn for the processed foods they make. The farm programs are corporate welfare programs, not aid to farmers with dependent incomes!

  34. It is also important to note that 20 to 30% of farms throughout America who are receiving susidies are not operational farms – many of them haven’t produced food for several decades; they are owned as vacation properties, retirement properties, etc.

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