There are a few editorials out there this weekend that call for big changes to the farm bill that will be voted on this year.
From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which calls out the fact that there are about $22 billion a year in subsidies for corporate producers of commodity crops:
Prosperity has returned to farming, but the subsidies hang on, inviting fraud, distorting international trade and principally rewarding a relatively few operators and major corporations, such as Archer Daniels Midland, who run large farm operations.From the Washington Post:
These payouts distort domestic markets for crops and cropland to favor large agribusinesses over smaller outfits. They affect international crop prices, undercutting poor nations' economies and derailing vital world trade talks. Indeed, Brazilian and Indian trade negotiators recently indicated that even Mr. Bush's proposed cap on subsidy spending would not be enough to get the Doha round of talks back on track. And the system has cost more than $70 billion since 2002 -- hardly the model of good government on which the Democrats ran in 2006.
And the Chicago Tribune endorses a plan by Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and 4 members of the House - Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), and Dave Reichert (R-WA):
Their proposal, the Food and Agriculture Risk Management for the 21st Century Act [FARM-21], would phase out all farm subsidies in favor of something called Risk Management Accounts ... Farmers could contribute up to $8,000 a year to their accounts, and they could draw from the RMAs in years when factors such as bad weather lead to a drop in crop prices. They would still be able to turn to the government for help when catastrophe strikes, such as a severe and extended drought ... U.S. farmers are the most productive in the world. They are smart, they are adaptable and they are resilient. They can stand on their own--and FARM-21 acknowledges that. It is the best agriculture reform plan to come out of Washington in a long time.
I hope the Congress, and the president, are up to the changes the farm bill and U.S. farm policy require. We should know soon.