Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fact-free politics...

Note the talking points:
  • Xenphobia - we will be getting our food from bad people if we lowered subsidies. Ludicrously false, unless you consider Mexicans and Canadians risky sources. We already import almost as much from other countries as we send abroad, moreover more of the imports are actual food - fruits, meats, olive oil, etc. as opposed to the feed and cotton we ship out.
  • All the other kids are getting allowances - Romney oddly mentions Brazil, who doesn't even build roads for farmers, let alone subsidize them. And never mind that the EU has millions more farmers than the US, it's the dollars that count. More ominously, what happens to this argument if the CAP is reformed?
  • Family farms - when EWG data continue to show consolidation into industrial agriculture, the claim that subsidies will save small farms will look duplicitous. Of course the 2007 Census of Ag will likely demonstrate this as well, but these candidates will have built their presidential libraries by the time the numbers get released.
Perhaps a better question would have been "What reforms would you like to see in the farm program?"

All said, I think the path of farm policy is not going to be altered by politics (unless Ron Paul is elected, by some quirk). McCain might force reform, but for everyone else it's a yawner.

The trajectory of farm policy will be most influenced by economics, IMHO.

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