Farming for the vast majority of producers is an occupation of last resort - not a passionate fulfillment of a dream. Call me soft, but when I read accounts like this of a farm "suicide belt", I struggle to figure out why producers like me need to be "protected" by tariffs and subsidies from wretched fellow farmers like Gosavi Pawar.
Yeah, yeah , I know. Eliminating our subsidies won't help guys like him much, according to studies cited by the cotton industry. But good grief, it sure isn't helping him! And anyway, it's those darn Chinese peasants who are messing up the world market.
Oxfam continues to drag out estimates from old studies that have been refuted or substantially discounted, while failing to report results from recent studies by FAO and the International Monetary Fund. These recent reports show the estimated cumulative impacts of all subsidies by all countries producing cotton only contribute a 2.5% to 3% reduction in average world prices.
But if we're going to pay twice for our cotton here in the US, why don't we at least keep it to ourselves instead of pushing it on the world market? How can you not subvert the marketplace with a scheme like that?
By comparison, the market value of America's cotton crop in 2001 was about $3 billion. "In an economic arrangement bizarrely reminiscent of Soviet state planning principles," Oxfam noted, "the value of subsidies provided by American taxpayers to the cotton barons of Texas and elsewhere in 2001 exceeded the market value of output by around 30 percent."What really surprises me is the argument from cotton producers that if they don't have a cotton program, they will start growing soybeans, threatening us here in the Midwest. Looky, guys, if you can grow beans more efficiently than me, good on ya. I think you may find it slightly trickier than cashing checks from the cotton program.
Either way, you do your best and I'll do mine - and customers and producers will both be winners.