The 2012 Farm Bill: A Happy Marriage between Democratic Socialism and Corporate Capitalism

VC Note: I’m pleased to present another article by Karen Kwiatkowski.  Like Kwiatkowski, I am not nor have I been in favor of any kind of farm subsides.

Complaints are rampant about the draft 2012 Federal Farm Bill.  Farm subsidy recipients are enraged about proposed cuts, even as the same benefits would flow to them through direct payments and insurance offsets.  Sustainable small farm and local food efforts complain that they are getting short shrift, and corporate agriculture is busily lobbying for its favorite programs.  The 46 million Americans currently enrolled in the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Program may see reductions and restrictions, and we hear that starvation looms large.

Everybody wants a piece of the federal agricultural pie.  But no one seems to be questioning why this monster half a trillion dollar piece of taxpayer and debt-funded socialized program is in any way good for this country.

King Corn is eyeing the possible loss of the Renewable Fuels Standard (ethanol) subsidy and seeking to gain compensatory supports for corn.  The environmental lobbies are worried that programs that so many of them administer will be cut.  The public debate between small sustainable food production and massive NPK-based industrial food production is heating up, as our own Joel Salatin debates with the New York Times.

Here are some questions I’d like to ask about the 2012 Farm Bill:

  •        — Didn’t centralized government 5-year plans go out with the 1989 demise of the Soviet Union?   When do we get to try the free market and liberty?
  •        — Why do the lobbyists believe Congress owes them our money?  As Davy Crockett noted, it’s not Congress’ money– it belongs to the people!
  •        —  Can no one envision a future where the government doesn’t pick winners and losers and try to control every aspect of the marketplace?  Corporate aid to big banks is wrong.   But standing tax-funded bailouts and benefits for industrial giants like Monsanto and ADM are all just fine?
  •        —  In an era of nearly $18 Trillion in current federal debt, why are we clamoring for even more redistribution of wealth?
  •        — Can someone explain to me the collusion between USDA, FDA, FBI, IRS and DHS in conducting raids, confiscations and general harassment of small food producers and retailers all over the country?  What part of the budget can we cut to relieve us of this idiocy?

I have a radical idea.  Let’s let farmers grow and raise what makes sense to them, and let consumers buy and consume what they want.  Let’s get the corn syrup, white flour and Monsanto bought-and-paid-for bureaucrats out of policy-making.  Why not put private property rights first for a change?  Is it possible in America to encourage liberty and personal responsibility instead of farmer and consumer dependency on government?

I don’t take or apply for federal or state subsidies for my farm, and I never will.  I don’t think my children and grandchildren can afford it.   And I’m pretty sure yours can’t either.

Karen Kwiatkowski, conservative Mount Jackson cattle farmer and veteran, is challenging Bob Goodlatte in the GOP Primary on June 12, 2012.

3 Replies to “The 2012 Farm Bill: A Happy Marriage between Democratic Socialism and Corporate Capitalism”

  1. I think using loaded words like “liberty” in this context, as well as comparing any sort of agricultural plan to communism sort of conflates the issue. Do we believe that tax dollars directed towards anything at all are equivalent to socialism? Roads? Building ordinances?

    I don’t know, I’d say that the farm subsidies racket is confusing to anyone not directly involved, as is any massive accounting model on a federal scale. We may look to the “feel” of something as some point of reference, the old: “they used to pay me not to grow tomatoes, but I made more by not growing wheat so I don’t grow either” cliche about farm subsidies may or may not be accurate. But if it comes down to a net gain for the food supply of the country things that can be boiled down to seeming so, well, stupid, may have some place.

    It would be nice for some explanation outside of boilerplate conflation of any and all government intervention as some sort of communist plot.

    Additionally, letting farmers decide what is best for them to grow at any given time without any sort of framework for why or when could presumably lead to speculation which could lead to a major crisis quite easily. I know that faith in a free market above any and all rationality is part and parcel of conservative political discourse, and I’m sure that the lobbying wings on a spending bill are borderline maniacal, but those criticisms are surely more prurient than refuting government as a regulatory entity when it comes to the safety and continuance of the national food supply. Right?

  2. Sam, while I appreciate your reasoned tone, you bring up a lot of unrelated red herrings. This article isn’t about roads or building ordinances or even about repealing the regulatory safety structure of the FDA; it’s primarily about federal agricultural subsidies. If the best defense of this spending of tens of billions of dollars is that this spending “may have some place” in a time of $1.3+ trillion deficits, then I think that in and of itself is a pretty strong sign of the program’s low utility.

    With national debt exceeding GDP for the first time since WWII, we are facing a Greek-style debt crisis if we don’t start reigning in spending soon. There will be a lot of more difficult cuts ahead, but cutting a program that takes money from taxpayers and redistributes it to giant corporations, incurring a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy along the way, should be one of the easiest decisions to make. The main reason why it’s not easy has to do with politics rather than policy.

  3. Not at all, letting the government instead of our farmers and food consumers dictate how and where our capital is spent will just stifle growth in the country as a whole. Americans care about their health, and given the money will buy local, organic, and farm friendly. The way to ensure the security and safety of our food is to have ongoing prosperity and free markets, and definitely not to reward subsidies to the companies most able to afford lobbyists.

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