Monday, December 10, 2012

How To Make Rural American More Relevant

Ag Sec Tom Vilsack laments rural America's decline in political power, measured by a failure to pass a farm bill.

For the first time in recent memory, farm-state lawmakers were not able to push a farm bill through Congress in an election year, evidence of lost clout in farm states.
The Agriculture Department says about 50 percent of rural counties have lost population in the past four years and poverty rates are higher there than in metropolitan areas, despite the booming agricultural economy.

I recall a conversation at a break at a seminar I was giving in Spokane, in which a farmer lamented all of the regs he had to face.  I countered he rich in subsidies and he shot back:  let me use my land and you can keep your subsidies.

We have a crazy farm policy summed up by Nixon's Ag Sec, "Get big or get out."  It is working.  The big get bigger, the small get out, and every decade or so we lose another generation of farmers. At the same time, I meet countless young people who want to farm (are they sure?) but those they see struggling to get ahead just get nailed by USDA and FDA.

We see with marijuana liberalization we get more better cheaper faster.  Forget the commodity, marijuana, and just look at the process.  If we want to see more and better cheese, liberalize the market. Get rid of the pointless restrictions on cheese that apply only to good food (small farms) and get rid of the GMO subsidies.  We'll have a renaissance in food.

Rural America is losing relevance but not Big Ag.  It can still get what it wants, they portion is booming, since they have no competition within USA.  Their success overseas is due to heavy subsidies.

The grown-up conversation the Sec recommends should be on the topic of farm subsidies and regulations.  Free up the markets.

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Anonymous said...

Farmer Joel Salatin's book sums it up in "Everything i Want to do is Illegal, war stories from the local food front"
How can anyone, except international fatcats getting fatter, think it wise to destroy the backbone of our country? Where are we without healthy food, healthy soil and healthy animals? Corpoations don't know how to do that - only farmers directly involved with their animals and their land. I live in Northwestern California where for generations people lived by logging and fishing. Our government destroyed our livelihoods by letting in foreign factory ships for a pittance to fish out our ocean. And turned our forests over to the National Forest Service only letting big biz do the logging. Now they have stopped the little gold mining that was still going on here. I believe in conservation but i do not believe in destroying healthy viable communities so a few rich guys can get richer. Now they want to declare our whole area along the Klamath River a "Monument" which means they can kick us all out and turn this area over the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) who handles leasing to big corporations who take no responsibility for the damage they do. They call it a monument, telling people they are going to protect it to get people to support it, but a monument is created with the stroke of a pen by the US president and can be as quickly undone. What country is next when they have destroyed ours?