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The Funny Business of Farm Credit


#1

The Funny Business of Farm Credit

Ralph Nader

In May of 1998 we held a conference dedicated to two Government-sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In my statement to that assembly, I noted that both corporations had been enjoying good times, but cautioned that one of the unintended consequences of fat profits over a long period is the tendency of both government and private corporations to start believing in the fantasy of ever-rising profits. GSEs often escape the accountability that Congress or regulatory agencies should impose.


#4

I just don't know how much longer that I can stand to be informed? It is driving me insane and making it harder to deal with the general public of US of A. We are well informed from this site and other sites that provide news of the world and empire. But really how many of us are there? The corruption/collusion is continuously exposed; corporations and government are never held accountable or prosecuted for crimes. The general public just lives on sports, Hollywood stars and singers and reality TV and why we might get Donald Trump as President. .


#6

I concur. One of the Dynasties in China had a system where all land considered part of the commons. Small farms would be assigned to families who would than make a living off the same and as long as they paid their tithe each year (which was reasonable) could farm it till the assigned caretaker passed away. Ih he had children that wanted to farm they could keep farming the same plot.

That said the land was not his or hers. It could not be sold to another or transferred to another to operate by the caretaker.It could not be devceloped into something else like a housing project.

This lead to years of prosperity and peace in China until a rebellion organized by the old landowning "noble Class" who seized the control of those lands again into vast estates via outright seizure and inheritance. The ability to inherit great wealth leads inevitably to a owner/noble class.


#8

I heard an interesting discussion on PRI today... and it said the demographics (related to Mass Media audiences) is really changing.

The medium age of the Fox viewer is 67, and of CNN it was 63, and the next network (I can't recall which) was 61.

The discussion centered on the fact that people under 30 are--by majority--getting their news from On-line sources and they cited Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and a few others.

Essentially, the crux of the argument was that those who get their news from TV are the dinosaurs who are about to go extinct.


#9

In Brazil a small percentage own about 80% of the land; and Ireland had its similar struggles.

This is a worldwide phenomena and only a few places escape it.

Look at the Saudi princes? Look at any monarchy and what the Piketty Study recently revealed insofar as the breakdown and global distribution of wealth.

Pharaohs and serfs/slaves/indentured servants... a very old and enduring paradigm that goes by a variety of deceptive names.


#10

Exactly! I am not american and had no idea about this scheme,but it seems to have few benefits to real humans, and with the situation of the rich getting richer and the poor, and most others in the USA, eating lots of artificial, industrialised and polluted food with excessive fat, HFCS and lots of additives not allowed in other lands, this type of subsidy should be restrained. The TPP and TTIP, of course, will (would?) make this worse by expanding the joys of US agriculture even more.

Thanks, Ralph!!!


#11

OK, so the goal snapshot involves necessities grown locally on land held in common. How do we accomplish the transition?

Permaculture principles describe how new and traditional methods can be adapted to climate and condition to supply ourselves on relatively little land. There is some learning involved, but this has been borne out repeatedly on sites around the world. However, money and access to land remain difficult--probably because these are factors requiring understanding and cooperation between humans.

As things are, farmers in the San Joaquin Valley in California tell me that they cannot make a go on 40 or even 160 acres of what was recently still prime farmland, yet the Urban Homestead in Pasadena supports itself on a fraction of an acre (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IbODJiEM5A).

The differences in horticulture are interesting and worth discussion. But farmers are kept from these by financial encumbrances on land and equipment and by shifts in commodity markets. They are thereby driven to concentrate on annual monocultures with toxic short-term extractive practices that kill soil. At the same time, debt is almost never paid off: more is owed on the same exact land, minus most of its topsoil, than at any point in history.

How do we release farmers from debt peonage? Subsidy has been of poor use, since it normally goes to companies that can manipulate political campaigns. The story of the demise of The Homestead Act and the gathering of huge acreages across the West is not only typical stark capitalism, but causally linked to farming practices that will desertify most everything in the American Southwest that does not already qualify as desert. I live in the Mojave and love it, but an artificial desert is a different thing, a thing of death.

Psychopathy in government and corporate business is apt to increase as rulers panic with the approach of oil and gas decline and the implosion of each and all of the various ponzi schemes that go by "finance." So it is unlikely that we in the States can expect even the social attenuations to capitalist plutarchy enjoyed by Western Europe--and that is far from a sustainable or regenerative condition itself.

The sorts of personal independence fantasies that a lot of us have, the prepper sorts of things, are dangerous in that individual independence is mostly an oxymoron. People start as infants and mostly end helpless, and there are tribulations between. We are born social, separated by trauma, and traumatized by much of the separation.

What's left?

We can and must lever existing laws and custom to create conditions of distributed ownership within small groups. Since corporate non-profits, trusts, and churches receive special protections by law, these forms are probably useful. Land trusts may be a good place to start research. Where encumbrances on land are relatively low, small groups can withdraw support from the global economy piecemeal as they learn practices that we might as easily call mutual aid or community independence. Quite an exploration remains--and how much time?


#12

A nation dominated by small family farms is a third-world country.
99.9 % of "Americans" do not what anything to do with "farming".
Young people in America are taught that farm work is "beneath them".
Farms can't find Americans to work on farms.
Very few Americans who come to work on a farm are employable,
Most who come to work on farms steal, break stuff, don't show up.
New food safety laws are going to eliminate a lot of small farms.
Small farms are inefficient users of land.
But in some places, there is no room for large farms, so small is OK.
It takes way more than land to run a successful farm.
It takes lots of labor, equipment, and cash to have a successful farm.
With all the new laws, you also need a lawyer and an accountant.
Many places in the US cannot grow their own food.
A lot of "local food" is more expensive than food from large commercial farms.
The U.S. is loosing millions of acres a year to housing development.
We don't need to loose even more land to the creation of many small farms.
I remember when we used to go to different farms to get fresh eggs and milk.
We were so happy when we could just go to the store, and save all that driving around.
Farmers learned that they could make more money by growing more and selling it further away.
Besides, what problem are you trying to solve by "many small family farms"?
It almost sounds like you are preaching communism?
But communist countries are moving away from your ideal - it does not work out too well.
Before you try to dictate a food production system, try making a living just off your farm,
You'll see its not like you think.


#13

Quite a take on farming. Grain only farmers don't spend a great deal of labor or time in their fields, actually. The equipment does the work and Monsanto does the killing. Sprayers and ground application of the "cides " take the labor out of " laboring in the fields ". Livestock production is different in that it requires daily monitoring but it is quite mechanized, too. Market forces and trade policies require the. massive economy-of-scale land ownership. which hollow out many former thriving communities, sending the masses into the cities and suburbs. Which is great for bankers and real estate speculation, not so good for most citizens' quality of life measurements. The answers require ending subsidizing the industrial farms and livestock operations and subsidizing the " farm to table " operations. Organic and diverse product creation coupled to right-sized livestock operations would provide many benefits to the entire country, not just wealthy farmers and large corporate agri-businesses. Our gov't, in its Orweillan way, continues to offer " socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor ". Big Ag is just another egregious example. But it has has alot of company in Washington, D.C. so don't worry about it being lonely. We have a " huuuuuggeee " problem in this country and that is, " we continue to comfort the extremely comfortable " at the expense. of so many more useful and healthy things. We have created our own elaborate labyrinth and now we can't find our way out to save our, and others, lives.


#14

You did not address the fundamental issues: (1) the vast majority of people do not want anything to do with farming, (2) small stake holder farms seldom make enough money to justify their continued operation long term except as a part-time hobby.
"Farming communities" are dying because the vast majority of young people don't want to be there.