Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rain on the scarecrow, 2008 style

The iconic anthem detailing the plight of the family farmer in the American Midwest is John Mellencamp's Rain on the Scarecrow, which was essentially the theme song of the various Farm Aid concerts and which reflected public perception of the family farmer struggling to make do financially.

Not now.

As the WSJ reports, "At a time when Americans are squeezed at the grocery store, they will now see more of their taxes flow to the very farmers profiting from these high food prices." Prices for wheat (87%), corn (94%), barley (56%), soybeans (70%), and rice (79%) are far higher than their five-year averages. And the Congressional farm bill, which will continue the high subsidies the farmers receive (which are supposed to compensate for having to lower prices to meet world market price, not just remain an income stream), even adds to the list of subsidized commodities because "[o]f the 17 most subsidized commodities, only rice and cotton will get a slight reduction in payments, while the bill extends the farm welfare net to lentils, chick peas, fruits and vegetables, and even organic foods. There are new programs for Kentucky horse breeders and Pacific Coast salmon fishermen, and your tax dollars will help finance the dairy industry's 'Got Milk?' campaign." Only farmers with incomes over $750K per year won't qualify for the subsidies.

Of course, this boondoggle also gives huge benefits to America's sugar producers -- among the largest beneficiaries of Congressional largess and one of the strongest agricultural lobbies in the country. And the GOP in Congress will roll over and probably vote for this in a veto-proof majority.

What a travesty.

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