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Web Letter

It might be helpful if John Nichols actually said something about who gets what and why and how much under what circumstances for what crops instead of just pontiifcating and describing Harkin as if he was somebody who wasn't from Iowa.

Jonathan Previant

Miami, FL

Sep 3 2007 - 11:53pm

Web Letter

Nichols gets there, but it’s a hard go. Nowhere does he tell the lost truth that farmer subsidies are compensations. You always have to sell way below the cost of production to get them, so they really don’t add up to so much. For example, even with subsidy money, income from corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat declined 21 percent 1996-99. So you could get a million in subsidies but net $200,000 less.

Much more important, he doesn’t specify and explain the big de facto subsidies, $2.5 billion each for Tyson & Smithfield, 97-05, to run livestock off of family farms, and multibillions per year to Cargill and ADM. These are pure benefits, with no compensation factor.

Like most progressives he misses these mega arguments, but unlike most, he still points to the one farm bill that addresses these, the core farm bill issues: The National Family Farm Coalition’s Food From Family Farms Act. It’s the only commodity proposal that addresses the unique characteristics of agricultural markets, which lack price responsiveness on both the supply and demand sides.

Twenty years ago the “Harkin-Gephardt” proposals addressed these realities, but when Harkin became Ag chair in 2002, he switched over to a greened-up version of the Republican “Freedom to Farm” concept, and took Gephardt, Daschle, Wellstone etc. with him.

Brad Wilson

Springville, IO

Aug 14 2007 - 8:51am

Web Letter

The President declared he would not approve increased fuel taxes to prevent future collapses (similar to what already happened to the New Orleans levies and Minneapolis bridge) until Congress gets its priorities straight.

This is very risky approach.

If he waited on Congress to stop the lobby influence and directly related wasteful spending to improve our crumbling infrastructure, we could end up in the Stone Age.

On the other hand, if Congress got its priorities straight, this President wouldn’t be in the position to approve anything anymore.

Kenan Porobic

Charlotte, NC

Aug 10 2007 - 1:32pm

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