You might like to take a look at the Op-Ed piece in today's (Friday,
May 24). (The NYT has a free--for now--web site at www.nytimes.com.)
In the piece, one James Bovard inveighs against several farm programs,
mainly CRP. Noting increasing commodity prices and the probability
of increased food prices, he writes, "The most harmful tourniquet
on farm output is the Conservation Reserve Program....This year the
program is paying farmers to leave 36 million acres idle....The
program was begun in 1985, purportedly to protect environmentally
sensitive land--fields vulnerable to erosion, for example. But
it is largely a means of increasing Federal handouts." He goes
on (and on...) in the same vein.
Maybe it's just me, but Mr. Bovard seems ill-informed at best,
and politically vendictive at worst (he argues that President
Clinton is intentionally trying to create a grain shortage).
Needless, to say, the NYT op-ed page is fairly widely read,
and to the extent that Mr. Bovard's argument is in error, it
needs to be rebutted. Hopefully someone with more time will
respond--at the moment I barely have time to write this.
Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences
Washington State University