Saturday, May 17, 2008


I think I disagree a little bit with Ed over the farm subsidies bill discussion. It isn't that I'm opposed to subsidies, but I am opposed to shameless political support for an idea that is somewhat outdated (our farm subsidies haven't been dramatically changed since the New Deal), as well as one that is expensive and probably has a negative impact on our overall ability to find more diverse ways to developing ethanol.

I'm all for supporting local farmers - particularly smaller family farms - but this piece of legislation doesn't exactly do that, with the vast majority of said subsidies going to help farms with incomes of more than $750,000. It also sets this year's commodity prices as the benchmarks for future subsidies, meaning it would artificially inflate the value of those payments since they would be based on the high prices for food we currently have.

And, though I'm not entirely clear on it, there's another provision that states any sugar purchased by the government would then be sold only for use as ethanol, which is an honest attempt to actually do something with this unsold product but there's a consequence as it will drive up the cost of a food product that isn't actually being used as a food product, but rather as a fuel.

I've long said that Democrats need to develop a comprehensive strategy with regard to agriculture, but this effort has me actually siding with the Bush Administration on most points.


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