The arch-nemesis of lovable farmers who just want a few billion on subsidies to tide them over - Big Business - has stirred from its loathsome stupor. (I get all carried away with metaphors after a little caffeine).
In the hubbub surrounding the markup, few noticed some important news: The U.S. business community came out for reduced agricultural subsidies.
In a letter to House and Senate leaders, it called on Congress to “enact long-needed reforms” in farm policy that will “create a dynamic opportunity for U.S. trade negotiators to increase the pressure on our trading partners to offer substantial new market access opportunities that would benefit American farmers, manufacturers and services providers.”
It was signed by several of the biggest guns in corporate America, including the Business Roundtable (representing Fortune 500 giants), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, National Association of Manufacturers and Information Technology Industry Council. [More]
And even worse those despicable number-cruncher/publishers at EWG have had the nerve to point out the proposed payment limits would only affect about, ummm 27 recipients or so.
Could it be that Karl Rove once again has a better political sense of the nation than Speaker Pelosi? Like others, I think "farm states" will not be politically decided by the farm bill.
In 2005, a Kellogg Foundation-sponsored poll conducted in Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota found clear preferences for a strict $250,000 cap on farm program payments, which is the proposed cap in the Dorgan-Grassley bill reintroduced two weeks ago. All three states are considered farm states, and both farmers and non-farmers were surveyed. You can find the poll here. A quote from the poll summary:
[By] more than a two-to-one margin (67 percent to 31 percent) voters in these states support limiting direct payments to single farms to no more than $250,000. Interestingly, support is higher among farm income households and Republicans than among voters as a whole.
Since farm income households certainly understand farm programs and their impact, one might assume that their higher support for strict subsidy limits is significant. Not only do voters in these states support strict payment limits, they are willing to take that policy preference into the voting booth:
a majority of voters in each state describe themselves as more likely to support a member who supports limiting direct payments to single farms to no more than $250,000 and at least a third describe themselves as "much more likely" to support such a member. [More]
Lost in all this entertaining excitement is the ground truth that farms like mine are almost past caring. Industrial agriculture will shrug if our $25/A DCP payment shrinks or disappears. And if our "safety net" suddenly looks no bigger than our non-farming neighbor's, maybe we will be slightly more sympathetic to solutions for all of us.
One thing is sure, with all this hoo-hah, negotiating cash rents for 2008 and beyond has become NASCAR-like exciting.
More on that growing silliness anon.