Farm bill winners
Mon, 4 Mar 1996 07:34:44 -0500
In general US legislation over the past decades has favored increasing
coroporate control in agriculture and brought direct and indirect benefits to
suppliers of inputs. Organizations such as the National Family Farm Coalition
and such can probably direct you to detailed information. I think Pesticide
Action Network also has written about laws that essentially work as subsidies
for chemical use. I think the worst part of this current bill is the
"decoupling" idea, which probably won't work, I hope. This has the effect of
further hiding the direct costs of chemical inputs by removing economic
incentives for controling input costs; only big corporate farms will be able
to benefit from it, I suspect. In general, all legislation, technical
assistance etc., that favors high input agriculture is a handout, at
taxpayers expense, to those who sell the inputs.
Last year a wheat farmer from Idaho told me that I should be thankful to the
chemical and farm equipment companies because thanks to "modern technology"
the price of wheat has not gone up in 25 years and the average American only
spends 10% of his income on food. I wondered, though, if gasoline, tractors,
fertilizers, pesticides and everything else used in farming has increased in
price, where is the money to pay for those things coming from? And who is the
big winner? Your food bill might be nice, but have you looked at your tax
bill lately? Where is the sustainability in that system?