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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Another Wisconsin Newspaper Hates the Farm Bill

I'm thinking of starting a collection of these. Believe the count is at around all of them...

Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"A temporary solution to deal with an emergency."

That's how aid to farmers was described when it was introduced during the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt. And in the 1930s, in the Dust Bowl and Depression years, aid for struggling farmers was necessary and right. But that was then, and this is now.

Now, aid to farmers means sending taxpayer money to millionaire farmers and to those who aren't really farmers. It means major funding for farmers who grow five row crops - wheat, corn, soybeans, rice and cotton - and no subsidies for 60% of all farmers. It means that three-fourths of all subsidies go to 10% of farms. It means sending $1.1 billion, according to federal figures cited in a recent Time magazine article, to dead people.

And it means spending a proposed $286 billion or more of taxpayer money over the next several years in farm bills pending in Congress. The proposed bills - heralded by supporters as reform - in fact do very little to reform the current system and much to simply perpetuate a giant government giveaway program, welfare for corporate agriculture.

Consider these items about how Wisconsin benefits from the current system, according to the Environmental Working Group:

• 52% of all farmers and ranchers do not collect government subsidy payments in Wisconsin, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

• Among subsidy recipients, 10% collected 62% of all subsidies amounting to $2.44 billion over 11 years.

• Recipients in the top 10% averaged $19,786 in annual payments between 1995 and 2005. The bottom 80% of the recipients saw only $817 on average per year.

The farm support system no longer even helps those it was meant to help.

Read the rest.

The House Farm Bill -- worked on by Steve Kagen (D-Appleton), to boost his re-election chances -- is a joke, the Senate Farm Bill -- worked on by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Milwaukee Bucks) -- is a nightmare.

This thing deserves to be vetoed, and then re-written with an eye on Agriculture for the early 21st Century, not the early 20th Century.