Once again we are being treated to the annual spectacle of Congress and the administration trying to outdo themselves to be portrayed as "friends of agriculture." Another translation could be, "We want you to vote for us the next election, and we are willing to buy your vote with the taxpayers' money." This system of agricultural subsidies started during the New Deal and has continued unabated to now. This has resulted in substantially higher prices for the American consumer.
Sugar cane growers apparently are subsidized to the point that foreign growers are excluded from this market. As a result, we pay much higher prices.
Last year, the drought relief program was subverted, according to an Associated Press survey. It seems that neither Congress nor the administration gave any thought to this bill, and the net result was that it was so loosely written that farmers helped themselves to our money almost without limitation.
We were informed that the taxpayers' tab was about $3.9-billion to pay farmers for damage of various kinds to 506 eligible crops, caused by almost any type of weather peril you care to name.
Reasons given for collecting federal money included hail, heat, floods and Russian wheat aphids. It appears that no one, including the people who were supposed to be administering the program, has any idea how much was received by farmers who would not have been eligible if the rules had been properly written and the program administered correctly.
Recently it was claimed that about half the farmers were either bankrupt or on the verge of bankruptcy. U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show that less than 20 percent of the farmers are under severe financial stress.
One congressman declared that the government policy in the 1980s forced bankruptcy of more than 250,000 farmers, whereas we are told the real figure was less than 50,000.
It appears that the sugar cane growers of South Florida expect the public to let them continue to use public waters to treat their wastes rather than using their own lands.
Taxpayers have been subsidizing tobacco growers while the surgeon general has been hollering almost non-stop about the dangers of using tobacco.
We have been told about the vast quantities of dairy products in government storage. Nevertheless, Congress continues to boost dairy price supports and thereby encourage the production of still more milk and other dairy products.
How much of the subsidies have gone to wealthy farmers?
Why is it that our urban population, where most of the votes are, has never gotten concerned about this continuing, massive handout of its money?
Today we hear people talking about the "peace dividend" and, in some cases, talking as if we should completely dismantle our military. Yet when they talk about saving money, they never talk about this boondoggle, which has cost city dwellers billions and billions of dollars.
We suggest that everyone write to his representative and two senators. Let them know that you are tired of playing sugar daddy to the agricultural interests. Tell them to let the price of agricultural products rise and fall due to natural economic forces. Recently, no one hesitated to hit us with a major price increase in milk.
We strongly suspect that some of the farm bankruptcies were because of farmers being extended more credit than they could handle.
Where is the justice in a system where John and Jane Public struggle to pay their bills and make ends meet and then have to hand over part of their money to support some farmer? Some of these are wealthy and others can't make it without subsidies.
If John Farmer can't cut the mustard on his own, let him get another line of work. That is what John and Jane Public have to do. They receive no subsidy to keep them from going bankrupt.
We know of no section of our Constitution that guarantees farmers privileged status.
Let your elected representatives know that you are tired of this boondoggle. Recently we witnessed the power of the people and legislation they did not like was quickly repealed.
We the people can make our voices heard and eliminate this antiquated and unnecessary system of subsidies.