>>>If support of the family farm were the point, the government would not have permitted corporate farms to reap millions of dollars in crop-support payments in violation of maximum benefit levels.
One of the reasons this came about is that a great number -- I'd suggest the majority -- of these big, corporate farms, ARE family farms. They were circumventing the acreage and payment limits by subdividing farm units/operations among family members. In any case (even when family member apportioning of these limits wasn't being done) the government was not exercising any kind of vigilance or enforcement. Regardless of whether big or small producers get the western irrigation water or the support payments or (indirectly) the benefits of an export enhancement program, these all constitute taxpayer subsidies.
I agree that it is worth looking at why/whether the bigger farm operations are really lower-cost producers -- when all the externalities are included and government subsidies are removed some of the smaller operations might start looking pretty good!
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