Matthew Blake writes a good article about some of the overlooked aspects of the Farm Bill. However, the real story is that the so-called "reform" bill pushed for by the likes of Oxfam, Bread for the World and Environmental Working Group, was nothing less than a privatization of farm programs by gutting subsidies and shifting the money elsewhere. True progressive family farmers, such as those belonging to the National Family Farm Coalition, agree with EWG that subsidies should be cut. But our farmers want a fair price in the marketplace, to force ADM, Smithfield and Cargill to pay a fair price to farmers. Ken Cook's group demonizes farmers as the main beneficiaries of our subsidy programs. They are not--the real beneficiares are ADM, Cargill, Smithfield, who buy and process the cheap commodities, and letting taxpayers pick up the tab to make up for the lost income to farmers. Due to below-cost feed and cheap corn, factory farm corporations like Smithfield benefited by the billions for the past few years, until the relatively higher corn prices of late (thus why Tyson and ADM are now bitching). So who are the real welfare queens?
Ken Cook also fails to mention in his letter how such so-called "reforms" backed by Representatives Kind and Flake were also backed by the Business Roundtable, Club for Growth and Cato Institute. Those groups hate subsidies, and want ConAgra and Tyson to still have access to cheap corn. They also want corporate globalization and free trade talks to continue, instead of continually being stymied by agriculture.
Nation readers should take heed John Nichols's piece in this week's issue and endorse the efforts of true progressive reformers, including the National Family Farm Coalition and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, who are fighting to replace our subsidy system with a fair price floor for farmers, combined with a strategic grain reserve.
Washington DC, DC
Aug 10 2007 - 3:43pm