Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/11/14/after-trumps-payouts-are-gone-what-happens-farmers
Although many US “farmers” have been corporate welfare queens for decades, Trump and the GOP added many more of them to that club with their taxpayer funded “farmer” welfare in response to the retaliation to his tariffs, and CARES funds that are icing on the queens’ cakes.
Meanwhile, other industries like utilities (that in 32 states are not allowed to charge late fees or turn off power and water) have not had one penny of direct federal aid approved.
Just as Trump was correct in saying “I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose one vote”, Trump and the GOP have not lost one vote from “farmers” during the past four years.
Am not a wealthy person, but do try to buy food from local farmers even if doing so costs 10 percent more or so. At times, organic producers demand prices twice as high as non-organic so I cannot afford to play that game. Most people can afford to pay higher prices for locally grown products and should do so. The artificially low prices for food are due to indirect government subsidies to large farms.
Even since our inception, the American economy has been made possible by cheap goods produced first by slaves and indentured servants, and later by cheap immigrants and third world sweatshops.
If Americans actually had to pay the price what goods really cost, they would abandon capitalism immediately.
Then again, maybe we wouldn’t. Maybe Americans are just horrible people.
I was part of a fairly large family farm corporation for most of my farming career. We got a LOT of taxpayer welfare money and like most farmers we loved to buy new equipment. Personally, I’ve never been much of a risk taker, but my cautions about overspending were overruled. When the 1985 farm crisis arrived we had a difficult time surviving, but we made it through. After that I was basically given control to say no to equipment purchases and we did well. Later I sold out of the corporation and became a small no-till farmer. This was all corn/bean rotation farming which is handy because there is always a ready market available. I farmed 235 acres which was not quite enough to make a decent living, but it was fine for me. Trump bought a lot of farm votes with all his welfare gifts
The low prices for some foods are due to both indirect and direct government subsidies. As the charts in the article show, there are a lot of these payments, especially since Trump’s tariff wars. One thing the chart leaves out is federally subsidized crop insurance. In my opinion this is perhaps the only government program that should continue for large farms. A farmer can get a very good guarantee of crop income at an extremely reasonable price. Virtually all farmers take advantage of this fabulous gift. The farmer chooses if he want a near free policy with so-so coverage, or, in varying steps, one can pay quite a bit to guarantee a quite good income.
One problem with Trump’s tariff wars and cancelling of trade agreements is that other nations begin to wonder if America’s word and obligations mean anything at all. I expect China especially will invest more in other farming nations infrastructure and perhaps buy less from us. China is a huge buyer of our corn and beans. Farmers need them. All the government subsides that have been going on for many, many decades have added a lot of value to land. If these subsidies end, land values will tend to fall. If land values fall too far that would create devastation in much of rural America. Yet it seems quite insane to continue so much welfare much of which goes to quite wealthy people.
Yes if biden stops the trade wars there might be more jobs in Amerika and a place for farmers to sell their crops.
From the article: Median farm income has been negative from 1996 through 2018. This particular data gives an inaccurate view of farm income. Farmers like to buy shiny new equipment. Farmers don’t like to pay taxes. Thus they buy new equipment to cut their income tax level to near zero. This is extremely common. This leads to increased farm debt. Of course there are many small farmers who have much needed off farm jobs. Some love to farm even if they make little or nothing and often hope to get bigger and possibly become full time farmers. The article mentions that cotton farmers have done particularly well with Trump’s payments through Sonny Perdue. Cotton farmers should continue to do well because MN congressman who led the House Ag committee lost his election. It appears a southern congressman will take over the leadershiip. Farmers, and many others, complain often about government red tape. The article mentions the Conservation Reserve Program. I have had a few CRP acres along my creek for many years. This spring I added a bit more. If I knew then what I know now I would never have done that. The paperwork and hoops to jump through were ridiculous.
Biden should push hard to re-legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp nationwide. Even that idiot Grim Reaper Senator from Kentucky supports this.
Industrial hemp, whose fibers, hurds and seeds have thousands of uses, requires less water, will grow in any type of soil without chemical “inputs”, and removes carbon from the air which is then locked into the soil.
That should be a win-win in anybody’s book.
Thanks for the article.
Get rid of money.
Another problem solved.
Very good observations and suggestions on US agriculture, the economy, and the federal budget.
It is vexing to see Iowa stay red, with Rs controlling the governor and both Senate and House, and keeping this state under the thumb of the transnational corporations and Farm Bureau. It is notable that FB is not cited in this article for remedies.
There is sanity here in Dubuque, with very good Democrats representing us in the Senate and House, and Pam, Chuck, and Lindsay are much appreciated.
It would be helpful for you, Ben, to have a seat at the table in the Biden Administration at the US Dept of Agriculture.
Good comments all, MonkesTale, based on your farming background and experience, and I’d like to reply to one.
It is good to see the federal crop insurance lauded in your comment. Fifty years ago, my father sold federal crop insurance from within the Soil Conservation Services building in Storm Lake, Iowa. He sold this insurance for 12 years. Not a civil service job, and Dad’s income depended on going out to local farmers and selling it. He was good at it, and almost all farmers in Buena Vista County bought it. Dad was celebrated at FCIC banquets for his salesmanship
Of course, the Farm Bureau and other private insurance companies opposed it, as this reasonable and “fabulous gift” cut into their largesse.
Henry Wallace 2024!
Henry Wallace, Presente!
Wrong question. Large-Scale Corporate Mega-Farms are HISTORY because they depend upon large scale inputs of Fossil fuels, Chemical Inputs, and huge scale financial resources… Beyond these needed inputs, Large Scale Farms are gone because Nature is changing… climate is changing, humanity has mined out aquifers…
Question…for humanity… and to each of you…How Secure do you feel in access to food?.. Do you have confidence in the big-box food stores? Do you have access to local farms?..
And with regard to Trump and the Unfolding Coup:…How confident are you that Joe Biden will be able to remove this guy from the Presidency?
What Power will the people have to remove Trump?
Very well said.
There are some true farmers still out there, who I think are going to be just fine. As the article and @MonkesTale pointed out, small(read: real) farmers do not get much or any assistance anyways.
MAGA FARMERS (not a slip) aren’t real farmers anyhow, that’s just a title, like customer service rep, but they are real people and families and I feel for them. I hope we transition back to before the “get big or get out” era because, as you noted, the times they are a-changin’. We need to undo the urbanization of the planet.
(Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin’)
Nice questions. Here’s my response, I look forward to yours.
I have some food growing and some stored. A nice organic plot of land and plenty of seeds. My sub-urban lot even has a well, one of the few in this sub-division. Yep, I live in a pretty big city. Plenty of solar panels for day power and cars to part out for batteries.
Of course my land is low and used to be a flood plain. I might have to go to higher ground if the waters rise too much. The delta, creeks, streams, and old rivers want to take back the land. They probably will when the power(or a shoe(smile)) to the pumps for Los Angeles are turned off. Will be good rice growing land.
I have small animal traps. Squirrels are abundant here, for now (grin). I try not to eat too much meat so they should last a long time. There is a lot of wildlife and bigger game hiding in the hills that should repopulate pretty quickly once the unsuccessful people are not around any longer. There is plenty of water for fishing and enough acreage of pristine land around me. The local farmers aren’t very far away. I would rally the neighborhood into a co-op anyways. There’s an organic wild forage/grazing, grass-fed cattle ranch and chicken guy down the road a bit (walking distance) too. I heard a rumor about a rabbit farmer in the hills to the west. I’ll be fine.
Now to trump…
I heard an interview clip of Biden being asked about not being recognized by trump and the gop.
You know that very small laugh, like through the back of the throat, that someone does when they know they’re right or they know “something you don’t”?
Biden says " They will (that small laugh) Oh, they will, don’t worry"
I think trump is just throwing a fit while setting up the fifth column for koch and team.
(trump meeting with whoever is in charge)
I add the question.
Who do you think is in charge?
Who is the top person on earth?
In your humble opinion?
Sounds like you are in a better position than others, as long the Earthquakes and Local Nuclear Power plants stay cool.
With regard to Biden, the ones in charge certainly include the Fed, the printers of money out of thin air, or digital currency… If Biden does take over the Presidency, as he restocks his administration with more of the same players, the next President may be a more effective Fascist President, as this may have been a trial run. …For the fascism of this country will be driven by the degradation of this country, its infrastructure, lack of medical care access, lack of access to financial resources…this situation has been created by both Dems and Repub Admins…
Astute observations as usual. Someone here commented that Biden may govern with his legacy in mind…(fingers crossed scenario)
I hope more people participate. Maybe keep it going beyond the politics.
I forgot to mention the earthquakes…
Earlier this year, I read a research paper on the area I live in…
It turns out I live directly above a known fault suspected to be active.
Of course there are many faults, so not too many of us are shocked.
It is a fascinating place.