Saturday, November 17, 2007

Down on the farm

I would like to call attention to another fine article concerning the Farm Bill of 2007. This time, the San Francisco Chronicle almost gets it. Unfortunately, Carolyn Lockhead still had to play the "fair and balanced" game, giving multiple views without taking the easy step of providing the information that would tell the reader what was truth and what was spin. But that is media coverage of politics from the beltway.

It is incomprehensible that either of our Senators could have the slightest doubt about continuing the current subsidy practices. If subsidies for American Cotton are in this bill, the President will have to veto it. This may be the first time that he is more correct than Congress. Allowing cotton subsidies to continue will open up major international trade problems and the costs could be $Billions. But I have written about this recently.

The Chronicle's quote from Dennis Cardoza (D-CA 18)is typical of the political BS the Democrats use to try and hold on to farm country seats.
"The traditional support that Republicans and this president receive from farm country is evaporating rapidly," said Cardoza, who secured new money to research and market fruits and vegetables. "They're more concerned about foreign corporations dodging American taxes than they were for real hardworking, salt-of-the earth people plowing the fields in the Midwest."
I am not sure what he means. When a majority of cotton subsidies go to less than 10% of all cotton farmers, something is amiss. The current system is set up for big business agriculture and gentleman farmers with a penthouse in the city. It dodes not go to those "real hardworking, salt-of-the earth people plowing the fields in the Midwest."

The minimum acceptable change in the subsidy structure is for the Senate to accept the Dorgan-Grassley limits on subsidy payment.

There is a natural affinity between the ecological and grassroots democracy goals of the Green Party and the needs of small farmers and rural communities. In California, Green Party efforts backed Restore the Delta as this non-profit brought fishing, farming and environmental interests together to try and preserve this hub of California's water supply.

Maybe this congress will muddle through with a barely acceptable bill, one with Dorgan-Grassley. But it will still favor everything that is big: farms, agri-business, transportation costs, energy use. Fundamental change will happen when the farmers and Greens align their efforts for a food policy that prioritizes a sustainable economy that benefits the health of our citizens, our land, and our farmers.

Lockhead does us a favor at the end of her Chronicle Story. She allows Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind to get in a few last words.
What subsidy supporters cannot explain, Kind argued, "is why we have a farm bill where 70 percent of the people in production agriculture get nothing ... including the specialty crop producers. And they're not going bankrupt. They're not being driven out of business. So the question is, why do these five main grain crops deserve so much of the subsidies and so much of the money, when it's concentrated in so few hands? That's the great story in all this."
Kind had an amendment to this bill and it was killed by Pelosi playing power calculus with farm country votes. The only Californian to side with Kind was Oakland's Barbara Lee. She got it right, again.

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