Tags: Samuelson | farm | subsidy | kill

Washington Post’s Samuelson: Kill the Farm Subsidies

Thursday, 10 Jan 2013 07:51 AM

By Michael Kling

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Want to cut billions from federal spending without cutting services? A start would be eliminating farm subsidies, critics say.

The subsidies cost around $10 billion to $15 billion, but the industry would do just fine without them, they note.

The subsidies were originally enacted in the 1930s to save small farms, lessen agricultural instability and protect farmers from ruin.

Editor's Note: The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

Yet subsidies didn't stop the number of small farms from plummeting 70 percent, according to Washington Post opinion writer Robert Samuelson.

Although farms are known for facing droughts and floods, other businesses, including manufacturing, steel, entertainment and newspapers, have suffered upheavals also, Samuelson notes.

Farmers' incomes, he points out, have been higher than ever — over $130 billion in both 2011 and 2012.

Rather than eliminate farm subsidies, Congress has played a “shell game” by replacing one subsidy with another, creating set-asides, price supports, direct payments and so forth, Samuelson assets.

It's latest move expanded crop insurance, what he calls "another arcane way to funnel money to farmers."

The insurance protects farmers against normal price fluctuations that could be hedged in futures markets, Samuelson writes. "Premiums are heavily subsidized, as are the expenses of insurance companies. With subsidized premiums, farmers buy lavish protection."

Farm subsidies are the “low-hanging fruit” of spending cuts. But Congress cannot force itself to change, and the subsidies have become a symbol of our wasteful spending and overall budget dilemma.

Others also criticize farm subsidies.

For instance, the New York Post, calling the subsidies "A Load of Crop" in a headline, reported that many wealthy New Yorkers are getting subsidies for owning farmland.

They include Mark F. Rockefeller, son of the late Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, who received $342,634 for not farming land he owns in Idaho from 2001 to 2011.

“Payments are going to people in Manhattan who simply have invested in farmland and are about as far away from farmers as one could imagine,” Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group, which keeps records on farm subsidy recipients, tells the Post.

Editor's Note: The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

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