U.S. Cotton Subsidy Shame

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King Cotton

The Washngton Post ran yesterday an excellent editorial on the U.S. government's idiotic policy of massively subsidizing cotton growing. The World Trade Organization has ruled that the $3 billion in annual subsidies is a trade barrier and has awarded Brazil the right to retaliate by charging countervailing duties on U.S. exports of nearly $150 million per year. Not wishing to endure the wrath of U.S. software makers, wheat growers, and the like whose products would suffer the Brazilian tariffs, the Obama administration simply sends a check directly to the Brazilian government. As the Post editorial explains:

The federal government has spent more than $50 billion propping up cotton growers since 1991, with subsidies averaging more than $3 billion per year over the past decade. Most of this aid supports large, politically connected agribusinesses in the Sun Belt—although the Arkansas Department of Corrections' operation, manned by convicts, has also received some of the cash. Thanks partly to the subsidies, U.S. producers can outcompete lower-cost producers on the world market; American farms account for about 40 percent of global exports. In 2002, Brazil complained to the World Trade Organization about this, arguing that the U.S. programs violated international free-trade agreements that the United States itself had championed. It took a while, but the WTO has agreed, authorizing Brazil to retaliate by levying tariffs against other American products. Brazil's threat to use that authority against U.S. goods, from wheat to software, forced the Obama administration to buy a truce last month…

The Post is entirely correct when its editors write:

Not only is it a wasteful sop to special interests, but it's also an obstacle to free and fair trade that needlessly complicates U.S. relations with the rest of the world. Reform—or, better, repeal—is long overdue.

Yes. The editors conclude with this most likely vain hope:

If this sorry episode doesn't shame Washington into ending this fiasco, nothing will.

Whole Post editorial here.

NEXT: If They Are Bigger Than an A Cup....

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  1. The World Trade Organization has ruled that the $3 billion in annual subsidies is a trade barrier and has awarded Brazil the right to retaliate by charging countervailing duties on U.S. exports of nearly $150 million per year. Not wishing to endure the wrath of U.S. software makers, wheat growers, and the like whose products would suffer the Brazilian tariffs, the Obama administration simply sends a check directly to the Brazilian government.

    Yep. These people should definitely be running health care and Wall Street. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. W. . .T. . .F?

    2. the Obama administration simply sends a check directly to the Brazilian government.

      It’s like tipping the valet.

  2. Yep, I remember posting a link to Hit & Run when this first happened.

    The only silver lining here is that this policy, while perhaps smarter than suffering the tariffs, is so obviously stupid that it could possibly (but not likely) lead to changes.

  3. Of course, let’s not forget this map from 2008.

  4. Do chad or tony ever show up in the comments on articles like this?

    1. Chad sometimes shows up to claim that *his* boondoggle government jobs schemes are nothing like these boondoggle government schemes to subsidize ethanol or cotton or corn syrup, because *his* are scientific and right and address pertinent externalities.

    2. cotton subsidies are libertarians fault!

      does that work?

    3. I don’t think that anyone defends farm subsidies except recipients of the subsidies and senators from farm states.

    4. Just for the record I’d like to say Fuck Chad and Tony and Dan T. I think they should get the lonewhacko treatment.

  5. “shame Washington into ending this fiasco”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    *tries to imagine anything that “Shames Washington”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    1. “Shame! Come back, Shame!”

    2. I share your amusement but can’t bring myself to laugh.

  6. It’s a paltry 150 million dollars; nothing will change. Shame is an emotion politicians do not feel and cannot experience.

    1. Brazil hits like a girl.

      1. Has Brazil been taking your lunch money again, JW?

        1. “Games, Jake. Silly torturous games. You know how many times I’ve gone without lunch because some bitch borrows my lunch money? Any halfway decent girl can rob me – blind! Because I’m too torqued up to say no. It’s heinous, I’m telling you.”

          1. “Right! So why would I lie? But I feel compelled to mention to you, Jake, that if all you want of the girl is a piece of ass, I mean, I’ll either do it myself, or get someone bigger than me to kick your ass. I mean, not many girls in contemporary American society today would give their underwear to help a geek like me.”

  7. Nobody who actually feels shame (or any other human emotion) is capable of getting elected.

  8. This won’t affect the domestic supply of fresh white panties will it?

    WILL IT?

    1. Why don’t you just start using Depends, Jeff, and then you won’t have to worry?

    2. One can only hope that it will increase the level of Saturday night commando-ness.

      The Internet is running low on sloppy, embarrassing, drunk girl pictures, you know.

      1. While I do appreciate the occasional vagflash, I fear mass pantylessness would lead to a return of sootikins.

        1. You’d think that regular waxing would dislodge that.

          Ah, the things I learn here.

        2. Just when I think there is nothing you can do to horrify me, you take it to 11. Besides being disgusting, that also sounds uncomfortable as fuck. Like, wouldn’t it… chafe?

          1. SugarFree needs to write a screenplay, and Episiarch should direct it. It would make Takashi Miike’s Visitor Q look like Disney fare.

          2. Well, don’t wash your crack for a few months and find out for us, Dag. Sacrifices must be made for science, you know.

          3. You guys have taken the beautiful act of stroking and smelling new panties and turned it into something creepy…

  9. Unless GREED is an emotion…

  10. I wonder if, in 2020 Reason will be running posts denouncing US Marijuana subsidies…

    1. No. More like 2175.

  11. Zeb,

    Lots of the media and liberals / progressives defend ag subsidies.

    Any effort to cut them leads to a rash of stories about the poor family farmer.

    This despite the fact that subsidies have killed more small farms than anything else.

    1. Yeah, I know. I was pretending that people weren’t idiots for a minute.

  12. The federal government has spent more than $50 billion propping up marijuana growers since 2015, with subsidies averaging more than $3 billion per year over the past decade. Most of this aid supports large, politically connected agribusinesses in the Sun Belt — although the Arkansas Department of Corrections’ operation, manned by convicts, has also received some of the cash. Thanks partly to the subsidies, U.S. producers can outcompete lower-cost producers on the world market; American farms account for about 40 percent of global exports.

  13. As long as we get 150M worth of hot girls* out of Brazil per annum in trade, I don’t have much of a problem.

    1. You put a notation (*) in there, but had no notation. How’s that Creative “Writing” degree working out for you? EB Strunk would like to talk to you.

      1. Well, I was going to say something crude about an acceptable percentage of trannies in the trade, but thought better of it.

        Happy that you’ve dragged me down to your fetid level?

        1. Ecstatic. Besides, your natural home is in the gutter and you love it, Pennywise. They all float down here, right?

          1. I mostly live above ground nowadays.

            1. “I mostly live above ground nowadays. Mostly.”

      2. Episiarch,

        Rather than complain, take the opening SugarFree has imprudently exposed to you and supply the footnote yourself.

        1. It tires me that I have to remind you that NutraSweet works for me.

          1. Hey, sometimes you have to step up to the plate to make up for our staff’s failings. Besides, humiliating chastisement is a recognized management tool.

  14. The Post is entirely correct

    Heads will roll for this!

  15. Michael: My credit good enough to buy you out?
    Moe Greene: Buy me out?
    [Fredo laughs nervously]
    Michael: The hotel, the casino. The Corleone Family wants to buy you out.
    Moe Greene: The Corleone Family wants to buy me out? No, I buy you out, you don’t buy me out.
    Michael: Your casino loses money, maybe we can do better.
    Moe Greene: You think I’m skimmin off the top, Mike?
    Michael: [Michael shakes his head] You’re unlucky.

    1. Kid: “Mr. Green? Mr.Green?”

      Mean Joe: “Yeah!”

      Kid: “Y-you need any help?”

      Mean Joe: *shakes head*

      Kid: “I just want you to know, I think… I think you’re the best ever.”

      Mean Joe: “Yeah, sure.”

      Kid: “Want my coke? It’s OK, you can have it.”

      Mean Joe: “No, no.”

      Kid: “Really you can have it.”

      Mean Joe: “OK…”

      *chugs Coke as happy music plays*

      Kid: “See you around…”

      Mean Joe: “Hey Kid, Catch.”

      *throws jersey to Kid*

      Kid: “Wow! Thanks Mean Joe!”

      1. That kid is now in prison for killing twenty people.

        1. Because he wasn’t wearing a uniform when he killed them?

  16. the wrath of U.S. software makers, wheat growers, and the like

    And you’d better be wary, Filburn is one pissed-off individual.

  17. For reference, there is a response from the National Cotton Council.

    Summary:

    –US cotton farmers probably won’t get any money this year from one particular program that gives free money to farmers when cotton is too cheap, so the past twenty years and $50 billion dollars aren’t a big deal.

    –The WTO didn’t rule on current subsidies to cotton from the 2008 Farm Bill, seeing as how it was passed after the WTO dispute was opened in 2002.

    –Other industries get subsidies via export credit guarantees, too.

    –Thanks to what free trade policies we have, DEY (the Chinese) TUK ER CUSTOMERS’ JERBS.

  18. We can’t cut cotton subsidies. That would deestroy the South’s traditional way of life.

    1. I guess they finally found the case where that argument works on northern liberals.

    2. That would deestroy the South’s Congress’s traditional way of life.

      FIFY

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