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Farm subsidies: Investigation or hatchet job?

Agriculture.com Staff 07/12/2006 @ 7:24am

Recently, one of the nation's widely read newspapers, The Washington Post, dispatched reporters to conduct an "investigation" of federal farm programs. The effort can't pass a smell test because the Washington Post's editors drew their conclusions on farm policy long ago. They've used barrels and barrels of ink and many reams of paper to publish their disdain for farm programs.

Given that history, why would a reasonable person think their investigation is going to seek any balance when the outcome is predetermined? Isn't that putting the cart before the horse? Sorry, I forget, these great farm policy experts who condemn farm programs dwell in the newsrooms of major cities. Carts and horses are foreign to them, as are these rural communities whose livelihoods hinge on a flimsy safety net provided by farm programs. I can say to the editors and their expert reporter/investigators, that the farmers, who benefit from farm programs, earn every dime while producing food and fiber for the masses for less of their disposable income than at any time in history. One of the Post's quoted sources, a taxpayer funded economist in Iowa, alleged that farmers are being over-compensated by program benefits. His assessment is foolish. Sadly, taxpayers are providing a platform for his gibberish.

Farmers produce food and fiber for their meager benefits, he produces outlandish statements without any nutritional value. Me thinks ye editors have been sold a bill of goods by some well-funded mercenaries who are on a mission to destroy U.S. farm programs. The program critics are also bedmates of a cabal of right-wing ideologues who believe that government safety nets are intended only for billionaires.

If a family farm carried the name of Enron or Halliburton, the treasury gates would surely swing open. As some in farm country say, one doesn't have to be all broke out in brilliance to understand the absurdities of the claims made by the farm program critics. Two facts unquoted by the Post's investigators get to the heart of the matter; 1. The average age of today's farmers is near 60 years. 2. The number of farm auctions and foreclosures are rampant and likely to worsen this winter. As Billy Bob Shakespeare might say, oh where forth art thou overcompensation?

Logic deficiency at the Post

One target of the misguided Washington Post investigation is a program called Loan Deficiency Payment or LDP. While LDPs have been blamed for the "over-compensation" one only has to read the middle word in the title to see distorted reporting. D-E-F-I-C-I-E-N-C-Y. Before an LDP is calculated and paid to anyone, the market price for that commodity has to have fallen far below the average cost of production. Hear me brilliant ones, you have to be in a money-losing situation to qualify for any payment. LDPs do not exist until and unless market prices fall below the Commodity Credit Corporation support levels. Those support levels, referred to as loan rates, are well below the cost of producing the commodity. In some instances, markets recover and farmers may receive prices above levels akin to those of the Great Depression. Doh! That is what a safety net is designed to do. Its purpose is to assist producers who otherwise would be forced to sell their year's production at Depression level prices. LDPs do not guarantee a profit. I refer you experts to fact Number 1 and fact Number 2 in the above text.

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