Thought this email I got fit right into recent conversations on SANet, like
re: hourglass, how government can help or hurt sustainable ag and family
farms, etc. Plus I couldn't help but smile at the title and thought you
might too - they really do mean _hogs_ this time around! The symbol made
real, no analogies here...
Hope you find it interesting -
P.S. I've put my comments within the text, each starting with the phrase
--- FORWARD ---
From: UncleWolf, INTERNET:firstname.lastname@example.org
Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com
To: Patricia Dines, 73652,1202
Date: Fri, Jan 10, 1997, 4:33 PM
Subject: Welfare for Corporate Hogs
from AP Wire Page:
01/04/1997 10:50 EST
Farmers Cry Foul on Subsidies
By PHILIP BRASHER Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Small hog farms like Larry Ginter's 35-sow operation
in Iowa are a vanishing breed: It's tough to compete with corporations
feeding tens of thousands of pigs at a time.
So Ginter is angry that the big operations might qualify for federal
money to prevent manure spills that have become major environmental
problems in Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina and other states.
``They created the problem. They should clean up the problem,'' said
Ginter, who farms near Rhodes, Iowa. ``We should target the money to
small family farmers.''
[PD NOTE: I can see the argument that especially the large farms should pay
for this, so it gets reflected as a cost of doing business. Isn't that
consistent with a market economy?]
Congress set aside $200 million in the 1996 farm bill to help farmers
and ranchers install conservation measures such as manure-handling
facilities and vegetation along stream banks for protection from runoff.
The farm law said ``large confined livestock operations'' are
ineligible for the money, but it didn't set specific size limits.
Despite pressure from congressional Democrats to set national
standards, the Agriculture Department has proposed to let states decide
which among their farms qualify for the aid.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said that could turn the program into
another form of ``corporate welfare.''
But USDA officials said national ``one-size-fits-all'' limits would be
unfair and pledged to work with states to ``ensure that only
family-sized farms and ranches'' get the money.
The department isn't expected to issue the program's final rules until
next month, and officials still are considering national size limits,
said Tom Hebert, USDA undersecretary for natural resources and the
The Senate wanted to restrict the subsidies to farms and feed lots that
aren't big enough for regulation by the Environmental Protection
Agency. That would include operations with up to 2,500 hogs, 1,000
beef cattle, 10,000 sheep and 100,000 chickens. Bigger, EPA-regulated
operations would install anti-pollution measures before they're allowed to
But the House, heeding livestock groups, objected to those limits, and
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman asked lawmakers to let him decide
what the restrictions should be.
[PD NOTE: Like the fox watching the henhouse??]
Several Democratic senators, including Minority Leader Tom Daschle of
South Dakota, urged Glickman in October to impose the Senate's limits,
but USDA officials said that would cut out some operations that need the
[PD NOTE: Is the criteria needing money? Gosh, don't we all need money!?
If they can't do their large scale farms economically, doesn't true free
market say they should stop doing it? Given that it harms rather than
helps the shared environment (plus the other harm it does), why should we
encourage them by subsidizing them? Why should we help them but not
The program ``should be used to mitigate environmental problems for
producers regardless of the size and type,'' said Dorothea Vafiadis, a
spokeswoman for the National Pork Producers Council, which doesn't want
[PD NOTE: Now we're getting at the root of the matter. Aside: Doesn't this
seem like a humorous takeoff, with the _Pork_ Producers Council asking for
unlimited money?? I'm splitting my sides here! (Yes, it'd be funnier if it
Under EQIP, the government will pay up to 75 percent of the cost of
building manure-handling facilities, capping abandoned wells and
planting vegetation to protect streams and wetlands from runoff.
Producers could receive $10,000 a year to as much as $50,000.
Individual facilities with a single owner each could qualify for
subsidies under USDA's proposed rules.
The dispute over EQIP is part of a larger battle over the future of the
hog industry. Huge hog operations now dominate the industry in North
Carolina and Iowa and are spreading to many other states, bringing
environmental problems with them.
[PD NOTE: I'm so impressed that a mainstream press story included this
paragraph! For this is the point, isn't it - this way of farming does
environmental harm and should be borne by the producers not the community,
so that the true costs can be considered in choosing our future...]
Iowa producer Austin DeCoster has been fined at least five times since
1993 and sued twice by the state for environmental problems at his hog
and poultry facilities. DeCoster's farms cover at least 6,700 acres in
one county alone, according to The Des Moines Register.
Family-sized producers see the growth of such ``hog factories'' as a
threat to their way of life. In their view, allowing the big producers
to collect subsidies for manure cleanup will lead to still more
consolidation of the industry.
Forty-three producers had at least 10,000 sows last year. The biggest
was Murphy Family Farms of Rose Hill, N.C., with 260,000, according to
a survey by Successful Farming magazine.