The problem is that the Times can’t recognize economic cause and effect…
Today’s New York Times editorial page opines, in A Factory Farm Near You:
Once upon a time, only a decade or so, it wasn’t hard to know where factory hog farms were because they were nearly all in North Carolina. But since those days, the practice of crowding together huge concentrations of animals — hogs, poultry, dairy cows, beef cattle — in the interests of supposed efficiency has spread around the country.
Wherever it appears, factory farming has two notable effects. It threatens the environment, because of huge concentrations of animal manure and lax regulation. And it threatens local political control. Residents who want a say over whether and where factory farms, whose stench can be overwhelming, can be built find their voices drowned out by the industry’s cash and lobbying clout.
Ironically, the ill complained of by the Times is the creation of their very own liberal-Progressive-socialist confreres, dating back to 1933. A considerable element in what the Times calls “supposed efficiency” is the large-scale production subsidized by Federal hand-outs.
Times editorial writers seem to have forgot that “industry’s cash and lobbying clout” is one of the continuing special-interest cash cows for the Democratic Party, which has perennially resisted efforts to reform or eliminate farm support legislation. That’s because the big money in Federal farm subsidies goes, not to the independent family farmer of Thomas Jefferson’s idyllic picture, but to huge corporations, which have been, for obvious reasons, big contributors to the Democrats.
Lest we forget, this whole mess originated with Franklin Roosevelt’s Brain Trusters’ and state-planners’ creation of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) in 1933 as one of the major pillars supporting the New Deal conversion of our nation to socialism. The aim, in the classic socialist model, was to control farm production and prices.
Farm price supports drive prices up, not down. That encourages over-production, on the largest feasible scale. Collectivized government supports collectivized agriculture.
Large corporations are the entities with financial resources to take full advantage of government handouts, as well as the entities with deep enough pockets to pay back politicians with large campaign contributions.
In Farming For Dollars, July 6, 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported:
...Farmers have been pocketing about $20 billion a year in taxpayer handouts, even as they
enjoy record crop prices. Thanks to the ethanol subsidy boom, corn has hit as high as $4 a bushel, more than double the 2005 price. Yet almost half of all farm subsidies go to corn growers, thanks to the clout of Midwest and Plains-state Senators. The USDA reports that prices for wheat, soybeans and sugar are also at “near-historic highs.”
...Farmers have received price supports and an annual “emergency” payout every year since 2001. In 2003, drought assistance went to farmers in hundreds of counties where investigators later discovered there was no drought. Farmers in Washington state received earthquake assistance even when their crops weren’t damaged. Yet the farm lobby continues to push $7 billion in new “emergency” payouts this year for livestock, milk, fisheries and rural development aid.
The enduring myth is that all of this aid goes to needy family farms. In reality price supports have accelerated the demise of small farms because the benefits go to the most profitable growers. Citizens Against Government Waste has documented that three-quarters of the payments under the 2002 farm bill have gone to the richest 10% of farmers. More than half of the $1.9 billion sugar program lines the pockets of the wealthiest 1% of plantation owners.
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776.