• 16Jan

    Here’s an Easy One (New York Times Editorial)

    EXCERPT: Vows by Congressional Republicans to slash billions from the federal budget at a time when joblessness is high and the economy needs stimulus are reckless. But here is one big-ticket saving that all members of Congress should get behind: cutting the billions of dollars in farm subsidies that distort food prices, encourage overfarming and inflate the price of land.

    To read the full editorial click HERE

  • 27Nov

    Nation Waist-Deep In Soybeans After $30 Trillion Farm Subsidy Bill Accidentally Passed

    EXCERPT: WASHINGTON—Days after the accidental passage of a bill allocating $30 trillion in federal subsidies to soybean producers, a massive tide of the protein-rich legumes has flooded the nation, crippling transportation networks, commerce, and public utilities, and profoundly disrupting American life.

    “Soybeans are everywhere,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday, noting that all 406 million acres of arable land in the United States have been converted to soybean cultivation as farmers sought a share of funds worth more than twice the gross domestic product. “Many citizens have shoveled out their driveways only to find that schools and businesses have been shut down. Millions more remain trapped indoors as windblown soybean drifts cover entire houses.”

    “For most, simply getting to the grocery store has become impossible,” Vilsack continued. “Not that grocery stores have much in them besides soybeans at this point.”

    Read the full satire HERE

  • 19Jun

    By Tom Philpott; Published on Grist

    Agricultural and food products are not like other commodities. Their price is that of life, and below a certain threshold, that of death.

    – Marcel Mazoyer and Laurence Roudart, A History of World Agriculture from the Neolithic Age to the Current Crisis

    Last month, after Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini dared question the virtue of certain U.S. farmers, many sustainable-agriculture proponents lashed out in fury.

    More recently, another high-profile observer, Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook, also made remarks about farmers that could be read as unkind. But while Petrini had to face down angry questioners and issue an apology, Cook’s jibes generated not a peep in the sustainable-ag blogosphere, where Cook enjoys high esteem.

    In one sense, the divergent reactions can be explained by looking at whom the two men insulted. Petrini took a poke at small-scale organic growers producing for a nearby community, while Cook aimed at Midwestern grain farmers — the kind who practice what I and other observers often denounce as “industrial agriculture.” It may be no surprise, then, that the sustainable-ag community rose to defend the small-scale farmers, and looked the other way when the big guys got roughed up.

    But in another sense, the response is puzzling. The farmers Petrini tweaked are niche growers. Altogether, they supply perhaps 3 percent of the nation’s food. But Cook went after the people who supply the great bulk of the calories that sustain a nation of 300 million.

    If the former group disappeared — a specter I don’t raise lightly, since I work on a small-scale organic farm — the quality of our food supply would decline appreciably. But in the unlikely event that the Midwestern grain farmers shut down operations, we’d likely experience a full-on famine.

    By pointing this out, I don’t mean to demean Ken Cook, whose work on our convoluted farm-support system I admire and have been citing for years. But I do want to challenge some of the discourse coming from the sustainable-ag community as congressional debate around the 2007 farm bill enters its stretch run — especially the idea that merely ending subsidies will sort out our agricultural woes. Just Another Day at the Office?

    To read the full article go to: http://www.grist.org/article/subsidy-mess/

  • 09Dec

    The following information on farm subsidies was compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Although it is a presentation of factual data, it clearly reflects the organization’s own opinion about farm subsidies. For alternative points of view, see an article on the benefits of subsidies here, and an article criticizing EWG’s publication of personal information here. For an overview of policy related to farm subsidies CLICK HERE.

    Agricultural Subsidy Facts: Compiled by the Environmental Working Group - available on their Farm Subsidy Database

    • $177.6 billion in subsidies 1995-2006.
    • 67 percent of all farmers and ranchers do not collect government subsidy payments in United States, according to USDA.
    • Among subsidy recipients, ten percent collected 74 percent of all subsidies amounting to $130.6 billion over 12 years.
    • Recipients in the top 10% averaged $36,290 in annual payments between 1995 and 2006. The bottom 80 percent of the recipients saw only $731 on average per year.

    The Following is a list of the top 12 crop/program subsidy recipients (1995-2006), each of which received over $1 billion in subsidies over those 10 years. The list names the crop (or program) followed by the number of recipients/ the total $ paid out over the 10 year period.

    1Corn Subsidies1,568,095/$56,170,875,257
    2Wheat Subsidies1,308,268/$22,051,566,200
    3Cotton Subsidies247,879/$21,329,862,262
    4Conservation Reserve Program768,180/$20,337,282,263
    5Disaster Payments1,246,432/$15,114,518,393
    6Soybean Subsidies985,712/$14,239,702,740
    7Rice Subsidies65,533/$11,043,795,298
    8Sorghum Subsidies586,766/$4,569,912,363
    9Dairy Program Subsidies151,737/$3,560,356,847
    10Livestock Subsidies754,842/$2,908,502,988
    11Peanut Subsidies89,463/$2,609,286,072
    12Barley Subsidies337,812/$1,962,025,270

    ———————————————–

    Amidst Record 2007 Crop Prices and Farm Income Washington Delivers $5 Billion in Subsidies (Article Highlights)

    Ken Cook and Chris Campbell, Environmental Working Group, Full article HERE

    By any measure, 2007 was a banner year for farmers of grain, soybeans and cotton, as high prices for their crops earned them record net income, even after they paid skyrocketing costs for fuel, fertilizer and seed.

    But under formulas set by Congress in the 2002 farm law, taxpayers topped off the record farm earnings of 2007 with another $5 billion in “direct payment” crop subsidies.

    The names of the direct payment subsidy recipients and the amount they received in 2007 were released online today by Environmental Working Group.

    Topping the list of direct payment subsidies are 5,125 recipients who collected over $60,000 in 2007, an amount roughly equivalent to average U.S. household income in 2006 ($66,000, the latest year available)). The cost to taxpayers was $537 million. Read more »

  • 27Mar

    An Action Alert from the
    National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

    The 2008 Farm Bill handed President Obama and USDA Secretary Vilsack a rare opportunity to close one of the biggest payment limit loopholes in current regulations.  The nation’s largest farms collect unlimited annual production subsidies under rules that permit payments to those who provide only minimal farm management and no active labor.  President Obama and Secretary Vilsack need to hear a loud and clear message from farmers and other citizens who care about the future of farming: The time is now to close the loophole that allows widespread abuse of payment limitation law!

    COMMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BEFORE APRIL 6, 2009

    Where to Send Your Email or Letter:  There are three easy ways to respond:

    • Send an email to Dan McGlynn at USDA at Dan.McGlynn@wdc.usda.gov, or
    • Send him a letter by fax to 202-690-2130, or
    • Send a letter by mail to Dan McGlynn, Farm Service Agency, USDA, Stop 0517, Room 4754, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-0517.

    Be sure to include at the top of the letter the following:  “Comment on Farm Program Payment Limitation Rule, Federal Register, Vol. 74, No. 23, February 5, 2009” Read more »

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