Friday, June 17, 2011

Maybe ridicule will help...

From Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution, one of the top econoblogs, this post under the title:

Not from The Onion:

The headline says it all:
House keeps farm subsidies, cuts food aid
Here are some of the other provisions which seem designed just to be ridiculed by Jon Stewart:
Directs the Agriculture Department to rewrite rules it issued in January meant to make school meals healthier. Republicans say the new rules, the first major overhaul of school lunches in 15 years, are too costly.
Forces USDA to report to Congress every time officials travel to promote the department’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program, which supports locally grown food, and discourages the department from giving research grants to support local food systems. Large agribusiness has been critical of the department’s focus on these smaller food producers.
Prevents USDA from moving forward with new rules that would make it easier for smaller farmers and ranchers to sue large livestock companies on antitrust grounds. The proposed rules are meant to address the growing concentration of corporate power in agriculture.
Delays for more than a year new rules for reporting trades in derivatives, the complex financial instruments blamed for helping precipitate the 2008 financial crisis. A Republican amendment adopted Thursday would require the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which funded in the bill, to first have other rules in place to facilitate its collection of derivatives market data.
Prevents the FDA from approving genetically modified salmon for human consumption, a decision set for later this year.
Questions the scope of Obama administration initiatives to put calories on menus and limit the marketing of unhealthy foods to children.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d probably do away with a number of these rules as well. But anyone who argues against making school meals healthier because it’s too expensive at the same time as they vote for keeping billions of dollars in farm subsidies is not concerned about expenses. What unites the bill is not ideology but protection of agribusiness.
Perhaps the most outrageous provision was one the good guys won:
Critics of farm subsidies did score one victory: The House voted to block a $147 million annual payment to Brazil’s cotton industry. The United States agreed to make that payment last year after Brazil’s industry complained to the World Trade Organization that Washington unfairly was subsidizing U.S. cotton farmers. The United States lost the WTO case and agreed to make the payments to Brazil as a settlement.
So not only have we been subsidizing cotton farmers but we have been paying Brazil to allow us to keep subsidizing cotton farmers. Incredible. I wonder whether this provision will make it into the final bill.
[With apologies for excerpting the whole post.]
It simply leaves me speechless that our industry (grain production) can look anyone in the eye and justify our farm program. Maybe this whole ugly budget mess will see much of it thrown under the bus.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

John, what you have highlighted is America in the current era. Land of hypocrisy. Personal selfishness which knows no bounds and little concern for the public good in general. As long as I have mine let the rest starve in the streets. History tells us that this is how civilizations fall apart. It is not certain that America can survive the boomer generation.