Farm bill fight

Vastly different House and Senate versions of the reauthorization of the federal farm bill. The big issue is funding for conservation programs. Senate, yes. House, no. Via Medill:

WASHINGTON – The chairmen of the Senate and the House Agriculture Committees unveiled drastically different plans for funding farm conservation programs last week, setting the stage for a debate that may last well into September with billions of subsidy dollars for farmers at stake.

A central element of the discussion is the Conservation Security Program, or CSP – a five-year-old program that Senate Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa wants to boost but his counterpart in the House wants to freeze. It expanded conservation by offering subsidies to working farmlands that adopted new environmentally friendly techniques rather than only providing money to farmland taken out of production. But it was undermined at its inception because of budget restraints – a problem that will play into determining its future.

As I understand this, it is not so much a debate about conservation as about how to get money to farmers and which farmers get the support. Some see shifting money to conservation as a threat to the current system of commodity price supports. Throw into the mix rulings that some of said price supports violate international trade law and ongoing negotiations — including heavy involvement by the French — and you've got a difficult-to-fathom mess. Oh, and uh, ethanol.

FYI, NC Reps. McIntyre, Etheridge and Foxx sit on the House Ag Committee.

House Ag's adequate Farm Bill Page

Senate Ag's rather ineffective and hard-to-use Farm Bill Page

Environmental Defense on why it matters.

Comments

Farmer need protection

Looks to me like first we have to get our farmers protected. If we are subsidizing our farmers, then a fair and equitable program needs to be created.

What's more, subsidies are tied to crop production, so the largest 10 percent of subsidy recipients collect 70 percent of all subsidies. While some subsidized farmers collect more than $2 million a year, most subsidized farmers collect less than $200 a month. Most subsidized crops are concentrated in a handful of states, so just eight states and 25 Congressional districts collected more than half of all farm spending between 1995 and 2004.

For a farmer to get $2 million in subsidies seems like abuse of a system. While I do not understand this program at all, from someone looking over the fence, it seems broke. If a farmer has that kind of land that gives him a prorated portion of that kind of money, it seems like he does not need a subside in the first place. However, I will accept that my logic is way out in left field and this guy does deserve this but right now, my finger is as far away from the "i believe button" as possible. If someone can explain how a farmer with that kind of land needs that kind of subsidy, I will hit the I believe button and move on.
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The groups, whose members receive billions of dollars in subsidies from the U.S. Agriculture Department, believe they will see net gains in the World Trade Organization's Doha round only if other countries commit to lowering tariffs and shelving policies that inhibit trade.

The letter was a response to Crawford Falconer, chairman of the WTO agricultural negotiations, who has sought to push negotiators past a long-standing impasse over agricultural subsidies and tariffs.

But farm groups complained that Falconer's vision includes "substantial" cuts to U.S subsidies that exceed those offered by the Bush administration and other controls on how Washington supports U.S. farmers.

Also troublesome to U.S. growers are the "extensive loopholes" in market access, including breaks on tariff cuts for developing countries, which they said would dilute U.S. agriculture's ability to sell in foreign markets.

"The negotiations have been characterized by escalating demands for significant new U.S. concessions on domestic support while our trading partners in both developed and developing countries have clung tenaciously to positions," the letter continued.

This I do not understand. Tarrifs are not set equally amongest partisapating nations? Other countries want our government to reduce the subsidies granted to US farmers? Since when do we listen to other countries and bow to other countries wants with regard to what happens inside our borders? Are we subsidizing other countries farmers? If yes, WHY???????????????????

Not sure what the purpose of the WTO is, but it seems like other countries want us to stop producing and allowing our farmers to prosper so that all the world farmers are equal? Is the purpose of the WTO to increase growth for developing countries at the expense of our farmers? North Carolina, at least from the Piedmont East is an agricultural state. Having our government involved in a program that purposely slows our growth in agriculture for the benifit of others seems inappropriate.

While we have to participate in the world market, do we have to retard our production to satisfy the world farmers? I dont think there are to many secrets out there with regard to dirt and seeds requiring hording of information. Does the WTO encourage training and sharing of information for all the countries involved?

If a developing country wishes, does the WTO have a method of providing low interest loans to these farmers for farming equipment, seed, fertilizer, etc. so they can be at or near the cutting edge of agriculture? Is there a method for getting ag folks to these countries to show em how to farm and how to determine what their dirt will grow? How to prepare their dirt, etc. Failing to teach em how to farm is just throwing money away.

Is there an oversite of the WTO with regard to any money we are putting into this plan?

While we cannot completely close our borders with regard to commerces, we have to smartly be involved in the world market. Having the French tell us how we should subsidize or farm is not an acceptable plan to me.

From What I Understand -

and I will admit, it's not a lot - this:

Other countries want our government to reduce the subsidies granted to US farmers? Since when do we listen to other countries and bow to other countries wants with regard to what happens inside our borders? Are we subsidizing other countries farmers? If yes, WHY???????????????????

is because (theoretically - maybe actually) when our government subsidizes it gives our guys an unequal advantage on the world market - cheaper to produce (so they say)

But as you say - a farmer with a million acre plot shouldn't need any subsidies if he's a half way decent farmer.

What bugs me is someone in CA with 50 acres being paid not to grow something he's never grown anyway. That's a mess.

Our farm policy is like a model T that's been upgraded and tinkered with trying to be a Volvo. I'd shuck the whole damn thing and start over. It is the 21st Century.

Subsidies to the small farmer (200 acres or less). More than 200? Then - it depends. What are you growing? What are you not growing? Is it fallow for a rest or are you boning the system?

I tried reading a farm bill once upon a time - gah. Whatta mess. Hundreds of pages broken out to every living thing that can be sold as a crop (almost everything!) ;)

We could split it into sections and go through it that way.
Who's buying the first round?

Is this a bad thing?

When the government makes equal the imports from the Far East to the US on goods then I will buy into this, but when it is cheaper for McDonalds to have the kiddie toy in a Happy Meal which is "free" to the child be made, packaged, shipped across the Pacific to the US because it is cheaper then having the same toy built in this country it is hard for me to buy into this global econimic equality. Why is it OK for this to happen to the US but when we can flood a world market, we are considered the bad guy?

is because (theoretically - maybe actually) when our government subsidizes it gives our guys an unequal advantage on the world market - cheaper to produce (so they say)

I think that is what the French prez is stating with his arguement.

If our methodology of farming is good then it should be taught to the world, and that would make the other countries smarter in their production. But to suggest, as the French guy is implying(?) that we should not try to produce the best we can because it would not be "fair" to the rest of the world is not to smart. Dont grow because we would saturate the world market, but also, US do not pay your farmers so much not to grow is also bad. I do understand that if there is to much supply, then the price of the product will go so low that the producer (farmer) will lose money thus making it more advantagious NOT to grow. This was probably a truism 10+ years ago, but with biofuels, every acre should be effectively planted to support that. The subsidy program for not growing should be reevaluated.

There is a saying, the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. If a country does not know how to farm, then the WTO should teach them (the chain gets stronger). If a country does not wish/want to produce to the best it can, dont hold us back (remove that link from the chain, and the chain is stronger).

Not every country can grow x product. Sorry, but dont grow it, but dont require other countries to grow x product at a reduced capacity because a handfull of countries cannot do it. I dont think you can get rice to grow economically anywhere in a desert, so why require the rice growing countries to slow down production because Libyia cannot grow rice effiecently? (example, not sure if Libyia grows rice or is even in the WTO)

I do not advicate that we choke down production of other countries of the world, I advocate getting the best out of each person and acre regardless of where they live.

I do belief in helping where I can, and I know right now, our farmers need all the help they can get, or we aint eating in 30 years. I hope to be around in 30 years, but I tried gardening two years ago, and all I could grow was weeds, and even those where pathitic. I was growing on farmland that is nice and rich and all that good stuff. If in 30 years, the farmers are gone and I have to rely on my farming skills, I am a goner. I need farmers in a big way. I want every advantage given to my farmers so I can eat!

We can teach any farmer anywhere to get the best out of their lands or analyis the land and explain that no matter what the farmer does, it just aint gonna produce. That should be a primary goal of the WTO. Wonder if that is even a consideration for the WTO. Sounds like they are more worried about what the farmer is getting paid in the other guys country vice feeding the world??

I could never figure that out about telling a farmer NOT to grow on that chunk of land, and we will pay you for not doing that. Guess they are saying the supply would be more then the demand? If that is so, then all these guys SHOULD be growing something that will go into all these new biofuel or "agrofuels". If you want to subsidize something, subsidize that. If the farmer does not get $xx.xx a bushel, then the gov will subsidize to $xx.xx for agrofuel. If the farmer gets over that, no subsidy needed and we have tons of agrofuel plus people food grown.

I just heard an article on CNN where the ethonal plants are threatening to take away food crops or something like that. More farmers are planting crops for the ethanol boom at the expense of other things. Is it true about that? I would say kinda yes. Most of the farm lands around here went to corn this year. Diehard cotton growers planted corn this year.

So those guy that are being paid NOT to grow, maybe this year pay em, but next year, they better put some corn, cotton, or something else a FARMER grows, or no subsidies for you. This would only come to pass IF it is found we did not get enough crops out of the ground for our tummies this year because of ethanol plants and other agrofuel concerns.

I was able to figure out much of the FEIS/SEIS for the OLF cause I had an idea of what they were talking about in the first place. Aint no way I will beable to figure out a farm bill. Sorry Unique, but I think for everyones tummies, I will have to pass on your request for deciphering that! But then again, a non-farmer, non-lawyer, local yocal just might find something worth discussing that might make since of this.

Maybe if I have more input on this from a subsidized farmer maybe or farmers in general, I might dive into this. I do live in an agricultural county and I should learn what them guys on all them slow green tractors do all day cides plow up dirt. I know thats not all they do.....heck they stopped the Navy from screwing up Pocoson wildlife refuge, they smart folks!

Yes

I just heard an article on CNN where the ethonal plants are threatening to take away food crops or something like that. More farmers are planting crops for the ethanol boom at the expense of other things. Is it true about that?

And it has destabilized countries such as Mexico - precipitating the flood (no, not the first wave, the subsequent wave(s) of immigrants) from Latin America.

If we continue down the ethanol path, not only are we jacking up our prices here (to consumers) but we are threatening parts of the world with starvation. And the really stupid thing is corn is not the best plant for producing energy. I just can't bring myself to advocate for switchgrass (weed!) (planting weeds - JHC in a corn crib!) Ow.

Funny thing here re: corn, crop change, etc. Corn has been grown around here - not the 'big one' but I've noticed some farmers around here switching from cotton back to tobacco. Hmmm....wonder if it's just typical rotation or something else. Wish I knew more farmers so I could ask. Yes, I am nosy. :)

I Love Farmers. Have I said that lately? Oh, I have? Well, then I just said it again. :)

Guess it is time to curb

the no grow subsidies and get folks growing food for Latin America. There is an identified problem of low food or potentially starvation and we are paying folks NOT to grow food? I do not like the idea that we are paying someone not to grow just to keep the prices up and have folks starving in the world. We are paying to get those starving people food, but who are we buying the food from? Somebody else or maybe even some other country. To me, to help those starving, we are actually paying twice for that bushel of whatever, one time for a farmer not to grow and one time from a farmer who did grow (we almost always give away things to needy countries vice charge them for the sevices?). No one should starve on this planet because the food source was not there, it is there, just greed is making the supply small so the price can be higher. I would rather pay subsidies to a farm who produces and sends that product at a much cheaper price to a starving people then pay him to grow nothing and still have a starving people.

We need to teach that region how to farm so their people can be self suffiecent. So their farmers dont have to come to our country for low-paying jobs because this is the only place they can practice their trade.

We need to encourage their government to establish plans and programs that will help their farmers work their lands. It is obvious they know how to work as they are finding work here in the agricultural field. It is not good for Latin America to have the potential of viable farmers and not able to farm their own lands.

What is Latin America doing to to help their own potential farmers farm lands they were born on?

The land will allow growth up to the point it can sustain that life and no more. If the people have grown greater then what the land can sustain, what is that regions government doing about that problem?

During the great depression our government developed plans to kick start the country. At that time, we also had the great dust-bowl which devistated the farming industry. It all got corrected. Some will argue that it took WW2 to truely fix the problem, but I contend that we as a nation had already hit bottom and were climbing out of the depression prior to WW2. Much of that was due to the programs inacted by FDR. He identified a problem and got the government engaged in assisting the nation in correcting the problem.

It seems like Latin America has its own depression going on, and the governments of the region need to help the people become productive so the countries can become self suffiecent and self reliant. So they can get the best out of the people.

The countries of Latin America are losing some of their brightest workers when they have to come here to find work. Think about it, why would a farmer willingly go so many miles to farm on lands? They have the skills so what is holding them back forcing em to farm as far away as North Carolina and further North. That is an extremely far away to be from your family or for your family to travel to keep up with the work. Their children cannot be having a proper upbringing constantly on the road. We need to get them farming their lands and then the world will have two sites producing. Latin America and the US. Right now, the world only has one and Latin America is starving because of it.

Some Thoughts, Some Answers

who are we buying the food from?

China

we are actually paying twice for that bushel of whatever

Yes; it is good for the middle man - shitty for the average farmer. Makes big bugs, I mean bucks, for Agribusiness since they are often BOTH 'farmer' and 'middleman'. urg.

What is Latin America doing to to help their own potential farmers farm lands they were born on?

Trying to uphold NAFTA. The crops are being grown - but it is more profitable to export than to feed their people with them.

During the great depression our government developed plans to kick start the country. At that time, we also had the great dust-bowl which devistated the farming industry. It all got corrected. Some will argue that it took WW2 to truely fix the problem, but I contend that we as a nation had already hit bottom and were climbing out of the depression prior to WW2. Much of that was due to the programs inacted by FDR. He identified a problem and got the government engaged in assisting the nation in correcting the problem.

Yes. And since then this has been tinkered with, added to, modified, expanded, twisted, shaped, distorted, and band-aided to death. Whew. Scrap it and start over would be my decision.

However, you would hear Agribusiness HOWL loud enough to be heard on Mars.

Think about it, why would a farmer willingly go so many miles to farm on lands?

Land distribution is unequal in Latin America. Small subsistence farmers leave the family at home and come here to work and send money back.

Wealthy landowners (the larger acreage) export; which contributes to higher prices in the home countries.

Everything I have said comes from my piecing knowledge together over time. (Kinda like the Farm Bill(s)!) Complex and contentious. Oh. Yeah. But worth fighting for change.

I DO NOT WANT MY FOOD COMING FROM CHINA, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Exotics - fine. They don't grow here anyway. Wheat, corn, FREAKIN' TOOTHPASTE? No. No. No. No. NO.

China eh?

instead of worrying about what France is doing or requesting, I think it is high time we start worrying about what China is doing to us. I do not want anything coming from China or the Far East, but for some reason it is cheaper for the walmarts to put those products on the shelfs then non-Far East products. However, we should stop today buying anything from China as a government that will encourage or support their economy. They are doing grave damage to our economy. I would rather subsidize the farmers with help in lowering the price of fertilizers even if it ment overall the world price went UP if it causes China problems. Hit greed where it hurts, on the wallet.

They are becoming industrilized. They are creating a steam roller that will be huge. They are going to run over us causing prices to go up because they will shortly have the mechinism in place to control prices. My extremely rudementary understanding of pricings as well as inflation conclude that if China does not work with us, we will have inflation that is just crazy, OR we will not beable to compete in the world market and our goods and services will be dictated by those outside our control. Either way, this is not good for us. You can bet there is a lot of Parmeas in China that is saying the same thing about us, that we have been keeping them down for way to long and that we are the badguys.

China is not producing fairly. China is where we were in the 1880s - 1910s with the train mogels and oil barons. A small group of people are driving that country hard to industrialization for a buck and they do not care who or what is destroyed. I just wonder how many soles are owned by the company stores in China? China is going thru its industrial revolution just like we did, however, we did not have over a billion people at the time. I wonder what the scholars are saying and warning with regard to the lessons we learned about our industrial rev that China is learning now. History does repeat itself and it is going to happen here. Just wondering how the fall out will effect us.

What would happen if a pricing tarrif was imposed on the goods sent into the country from items originated in countries where they refuse to pay the worker a comprable wage for comprable work. Would those items be brought into this country in the first place?

Your responses chilled me Unique. I kinda knew these answers, but you put them into greater focus for me.

What is Latin America doing to to help their own potential farmers farm lands they were born on?

Trying to uphold NAFTA. The crops are being grown - but it is more profitable to export than to feed their people with them.

I soo hate greedy freakin people and entities. They would rather starve their own people then help them causing an exodus from their own lands? What can be done about this? I see any kind of presure on that government would only be transfered to their own people. While they are not truely effected by our presure to fix this problem, their people will be even more oppressed and those people will be told it is the US that is causing your misfortune, pain and suffering.

Sometimes I just want to close down our borders completely for about 10 years, noone or nothing goes in or out, everything stays in house, basically take our ball and go home but I also know that is a horrible position to take. Throwing money at problems does not fix it, sanctions do not fix it, presure, bla, what to do?

Every problem in the world comes down to greed and the freaking buck. When are folks going to realize you can have happiness without a zillion dollars in your pocket?

Heck, lets just over produce, pay our farmers to over produce, and give the stuff to the local coops in Mexico. Dont buy any of their food from these greedy folks and let their food rot on the pier. We feed their people and we let their people know we are feeding em and let them know why we are, becuase of the greed of their government and large farmers. Would that work?

Bingo! Give Parmea the Prize

They are going to run over us causing prices to go up because they will shortly have the mechinism in place to control prices.

Way to look ahead, parm. That's how I see it. Why ship troops to fight? They won't have to - they'll be able to squeeze us to death from our greed.

Think I'll call it, 'The Chinese Boa-deconstructor'. Fit?

China is going thru its industrial revolution just like we did, however, we did not have over a billion people at the time.

Yep. Bingo, again.

Heck, lets just over produce, pay our farmers to over produce, and give the stuff to the local coops in Mexico. Dont buy any of their food from these greedy folks and let their food rot on the pier. We feed their people and we let their people know we are feeding em and let them know why we are, becuase of the greed of their government and large farmers. Would that work?

Dunno. But it's worth thinking about.

Giving corn to Mexico

is a nice idea, but there's no way in hell it would ever happen, unless somebody can make a lot of money doing it.

As a matter of fact, we're actually ruining their centuries-old agricultural system by switching them over to genetically modified corn. Now these little farmers who barely make ends meet supplying their family and village have to buy new seeds every year (from U.S. companies), because the GM stuff is engineered to not produce replantable seed.

Just like giving Infamil to new mothers in Africa, U.S. companies often do things that seem nice at first, but it's only to generate new markets, regardless of the long-term impact it has on the market itself.

Completely uninformed debate

I was brought to this page by a Google Alert, and am amazed at the total lack of understanding of the topic of agricultural policy shown by the majority of people commenting on KMR's post. Yet that has not kept them from expressing their uninformed and opinions.

Americans, including evidently some of the commentators on this blog, continue to buy into the myths of agriculture pandered by farm-state politicians, starting with "Of course we should be supporting and protecting our farmers!"

They should, instead, be asking, "Why?" Farming in the United States, as in any rich country, long ceased being the vocation of last resort. People CHOOSE to become farmers, with all it attendant risks. The only people who should be able to claim to work in agriculture because they have no other job prospects are migrant farm laborers. Agricultural policy does nothing to help them.

Midwest farmers and their politicians have also been very effective at equating subsidizing broad-acre crop farming (for corn, soybeans, rice and cotton in particular) with subsidizing farmers (particularly "farming families") generally. That could not be further from the truth. Subsidies are skewed towards a small number of crops -- particularly corn, thanks to subsidies (NOT in the Farm Bill, but now provided through tax credits -- i.e., the IRS) for ethanol -- such that U.S. production of oats, for example, has fallen so much that Quaker Oats and General Mills now buy their supplies from Canada. (There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but it provides an example of the declining diversity of U.S. agriculture.)

The people commenting on this blog also show an alarming ignorance of the WTO and the U.S.'s role in it. The WTO is a Member-driven inter-governmental organization. Its rules are worked out through negotiation among national representatives. The United States was a founding member of its predecessor, the GATT, and together with Japan and the EU has dominated its proceedings since it was created in 1947. With each multilateral trade round, the U.S. Government has been willing to agree to make certain changes in its own tariffs and subsidies in exchange for other countries doing the same. Is that a compromise of sovereignty? If so, it is a mutual compact of constraints on sovereignty, as are all international treaties.

Democracy requires a polity that has a modicum of intelligence and understanding of the issues that it is asking its leaders to address. If the comments to KMR's blog are representative of liberal thinking on government policy then we should be afraid ... very afraid.

How about this for liberal thinking?

Fuck you.

You obviously don't know jack shit about farming on the ground here in North Carolina . . . and I daresay the opinions of one of the actual family farmers commenting here would carry a lot more weight with us than the drive-by "modicum" of intelligence you've proffered.

Maybe you should spend less time Googling for parties to crash and more time driving a tractor.

aw, c'mon -A-

I don't always want to be the diplomat. We have to share this arrangement.

\snark off\

Rough morning.

My diplomacy skills got run over by a struggling farmer on a busted up John Deere.

Hear Ya

I saw some that were shiny new. Hope they didn't have to mortgage their legacy in the process of acquiring them.

check yer PM

Not sure what your point is.

Other than to be insulting. The posters at this blog are all in favor of keeping family farming a viable career and a viable economy in the United States. We are against mega-farms and their million-dollar subsidies to grow corn, tobacco, cotton, etc. And, we are for local producers growing local crops. Subsidies are specifically not given to organic and/or sustainable agriculture because then the prices would be competitive with the mega-farms.
Again, your rant seems to have no point other than to "show off" your knowledge. How about making some sense, instead of noise?

One man with courage makes a majority.
- Andrew Jackson

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

I did ask about

the WTO. I was asking for information.

Steam, you are encouraged to particapate and to help us become smarter. While we do not know all the answers, or even all the questions, we will read and make decisions based on the information provided. Also, people will have opionions, and if you wish to change an opionion, facts are needed. Toss some of those around with your 50cent words. Facts are good.

Did you answer any of my questions on the WTO?

Did you provide information on what this body does? So it was formed in 1947 and we helped form it. Did you explain why the WTO or why we would bow or negotiate with performing any manupulation on prices on our farmers at the request of foriegn nations?

Did you explain why we would want to do that?

Farming is a trade, a skill, a job. Any and all jobs that are worth a darn will be in the work force for an extremely long time. Looking back at the history of the world, oooo heck, just this country, what was the fist set of jobs people did in this country?

humm, blacksmith? shipwright, publisher, farmer, carpenter. Think everyone planted something first. Everyone had a garden or bigger so they could EAT.
After hunter gatherer, what was the next step in evolution? I thought it was agrocultural in nature, you know, farming? We been farming for a while. You always need farmers. We love farmers. My tummy loves farmers. Farmers are goooooood. Gooooo farmers.

People chose to work at the profession of their choice. Yes people can chose not to be farmers, but to alot of them the question is why would I want to do anything other then farm. Yes, their are risks, but the government realizes that if protections are not in place greater damage might happen. I dont know of any farmer that decided, geee, I want to be a farmer so I can not farm and get subsidies. NO, they are farming cause they wish to do the best they can.. Just like you try to do the best at what you do, right steamboat? You dont go to work and sit at your computer and decide, heck, im only gonna do the bare minimimum until i get fired so i can go collect unemployment. Thats a subsidy, right? No, you strive to be the best at what ever your doing. same with farmers. You do know that if the time came where you did lose your job, unemployment was there for you to help you and your family until you found another job. Your job has all those attendant risks just like farmers do. Your trying to tell me you dont have any protection against you losing your job?

However, just cause they are farmers, does not mean anything negitive on their part. Did you know I have a good friend who has a BS in agronomics, I think that is what its called, I tease him by saying he is a BSer of dirt. He makes a dam good living at it. Do a looksie at Uniques blog, one of them has a series of picture with farm equipment. Some of that equipment is in the $300,000 range. And these guys have multiple of these tractors. So you might wanna chill out about implying farmers being lower then dirt.

Also, just how do you plan to feed you and your kids if everyone decided they did not want to be a farmer? Or that it would be cheaper if we bought our food from Canada, France or China?

Farming is not the vocation of last resort. Come to a true farming community and ask them that. Walk up to a farmer with his grandson on his knee sitting on his john deere tractor and ask that guy, so, I take it you where to stupid 60 years ago to do anything other then farm. To bad your grandson here is going to be stupid too and have to be a farmer also. Wait, before you ask that question, make sure your head is tied to your body, cause that farmer is gonna knock it clear across the back 40.

Comments to KMR blog are based on what we as a farming community see and what we are concerned about. Also, alot of the comments where questions. Some posters even stated they where looking for knowledge. They put down their thoughts and beliefs looking to find help and to see if truely their thoughts supported or hindered the farmer.

So oooo wise one, please explain why with this identified lack of disparity of crops that we would pay any farmer NOT to farm lands? Please explain why a farmer in North Carolina's subsidies are tied in any fashion to a farmer in France, Japan or any other soverign nation on this planet? Please show the calculations on what causes his subsidies to go up or down and the rationale why? Cause I really and truely do not get it. Seriously. Please explain why fertilizer prices are going up, doubling in some cases because China is growing and I guess tilling soils at a huge rate driving the demand for these fertilizers thru the roof? Is China in the WTO? If not, what good is the WTO in the first place. Lets see, China at 1 billion people or higher, the WTO, are they near 1 billion? we are right at 300m, dont think India or Pakastain are in it, are they? So why are we handcuffing ourselfs with a WTO? Please make me smart. If I am out to lunch, show me.

Have a nice day steam....Hope your not floundering and getting water in your boat.

And yet -

Not a word from you to add 'understanding' to the topic.

Yet that has not kept them from expressing their uninformed and opinions.

We never will stop expressing our opinions; nor should you. Add data if you have it. If we're so uninformed, enlighten us oh, wise one.

People CHOOSE to become farmers, with all it attendant risks

Bullshit point number one. The farmers I talk about inherited their farms. Oh, do you think they should all sell out to developers so mini-estates should be grown instead? That's a choice, too, isn't it?

The only people who should be able to claim to work in agriculture because they have no other job prospects are migrant farm laborers. Agricultural policy does nothing to help them.

Bullshit point number two. Migrant farm laborers can stay in their home countries. Coming here to be exploited is their choice as well. We know the agricultural policies don't do a damn thing for them. We know that.

Midwest farmers

If you'd read a little closer, you'd see we are in NORTH CAROLINA.

Subsidies are skewed towards a small number of crops -- particularly corn, thanks to subsidies

Again - brush up on your reading skills. We do not approve of mega-industrial complex farms being subsidized.

Quaker Oats and General Mills now buy their supplies from Canada.

Hey - you forgot China. We aren't too happy with that either.

The people commenting on this blog also show an alarming ignorance of the WTO and the U.S.'s role in it.

I don't recall mentioning the WTO or reading anyone else's points re: the WTO. Not much from you either, come to think of it.

Democracy requires a polity that has a modicum of intelligence and understanding of the issues that it is asking its leaders to address.

So let's hear it, Mr. Modicum. Let's hear what you've got. Thanks for coming by and enlightening us. Post and run doesn't sit well on any forum. It especially doesn't sit well here. You can come join the debate any time but if you're gonna call us ignorant, don't be surprised at the responses you get. They'll be akin to 'don't let the door hit you on the way out'.

North Carolina is an agricultural state - or at least it was. We like it that way. North Carolina could feed North Carolina and the rest of the country and the world could kiss/kill our collective you know what. But you know what? We have things that people want, namely - good food. And we're odd ducks, we like to share. So how about some sharing from you? Tastes better than post and run.

In My Inbox

House Agriculture Committee to Consider Language in the Farm Bill that Would Deny State’s Rights to Protect Citizens from Risky Foods

Last week the U.S. House subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry passed new language added to the 2007 Farm Bill that would bar states or localities from prohibiting any food or agricultural product that the USDA has deregulated. The new language reads:

SEC. 123. EFFECT OF USDA INSPECTION AND DETERMINATION OF NON-REGULATED STATUS.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no State or locality shall make any law prohibiting the use in commerce of an article that the Secretary of Agriculture has—
(1) inspected and passed; or
(2) determined to be of non-regulated status.

The primary intent of this passage is to deny local or state rights to regulate genetically engineered crops or food. This would wipe out the restrictions passed by voters in four California counties and two cities, and could limit the powers of the California Rice Certification Act and its ability to prohibit the introduction of GE rice varieties. Local and state laws pertaining to GE crops have also been passed in Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. All of these democratically enacted laws are threatened by this language.

The biotech industry and big agribusiness have been trying to push similar bills in dozens of states across the country, and also at the Federal level with last year’s so-called “Food Uniformity” bill. Now they want to sneak it into a committee hearing and hide it in the Farm Bill.

It is both right and good that we pay attention to this now.
Farm Bills only come up every 5 years or so. (IIRC) What happens now will affect us for years to come.

If Mr. Drive-by

would take the time to explore other threads on this forum, he(?) would see that his casual insults were completely off the mark.

But his reference to "liberal thinking" leads me to believe he's been buying into a few myths of his own, especially when it comes to who pushed for all of the Midwest farm subsidies in the first place. They're red states, pal, and Republican Congressmen are responsible for vigorously pursuing most of the corn subsidies.

He may also be interested in the fact that Clinton slashed farm subsidies back in 1996, but Dubya has brought most of them back, added a few of his own, and has levied more tariffs than ever before.

Do your research before throwing out insults. You may find they're not as accurate as you thought, and might keep you from seeming like an uninformed ass.

Folks, Meet Earl

and take a gander at the Farm & Food Bill of Rights.

Okay. So it really says 'Food & Farm'

'a' comes before 'o' unless you're in Spain, doncha know...

In answer to some of your questions

First, several of you asked about the WTO:

... explain why the WTO or why we would bow or negotiate with performing any manipulation on prices on our farmers at the request of foreign nations?

First, my point about the USA being involved in the WTO (and its antecedent, the GATT) from the start is that we created it, and have largely controlled it. And through it, the USA has managed in successive trade rounds to bring down other countries' tariffs on ALL goods -- industrial as well as agricultural. Was the USA obliged as part of these deals to reduce its own import tariffs? Of course, otherwise the other countries would not have agreed to the package.

But the USA's reputation at the WTO (and in the rest of the world generally) is not looking so good these days. On numerous occassions the U.S. government has used the WTO to pry open trade barriers of other countries. But when it looses a case (such as over the Byrd Amendment, which takes funds collected from countervailing duties and redistributes them to the US companies that filed the complaints that led to the imposition of countervailing duties, rather than to the U.S. Treasury), it sulks and drags its feet. Not exactly a way to win friends and influence trading partners.

So it looks pretty bad if our attitude now would be to say, "To hell with the WTO. We want you guys to lower your tariffs and subsidies, so we can ship you more airplanes, and corn, and cotton. But don't touch our subsidies!"

By the way, the WTO does not "manipulate farm prices". It is a body at which governments negotiates the rules of trade. The last Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) set targets -- mutually agreed -- on reducing certain kinds of subsidies (and tariffs) over time, and established rules on how other farm subsidies have to be structured. For example, governments can spend as much as they want on so-called Green Box subsidies, as long as the subsidies do not directly support production. Payments under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) qualify under the Green Box.

In the new trade round, the governments are negotiating on how to extend the AoA, including probably a new set of subsidy-reduction targets. The subsidies that everybody agrees must be reduced, and quickly, are export subsidies. The EU has been the biggest user of these, particularly for sugar, beef and dairy products. An important effect of export subsidies is to reduce world prices. Eliminate export subsidies, and everybody's prices for those commodities rise. Worth negotiating away? I would say yes.

What do the other WTO countries ask in return? That the USA agree to reducing some of its most trade-distorting production subsidies, such as the counter-cyclical payments. Unique described their concern succinctly: "when our government subsidizes it gives our guys an unequal advantage on the world market". It is hard to overstate that concern. It has become an embarrassment for the country, as Oxfam describes it, pitting a typical African producer "farming two hectares of cotton, who is lucky to gross $400 a year, against US farms which receive a subsidy of $250 per hectare."

On to your next point.

You always need farmers. We love farmers. My tummy loves farmers. Farmers are goooooood. Gooooo farmers.

Did anybody say there is something wrong with farming, or farmers, much less imply that farmers are "lower then dirt"? (Reread my previous posting, please.) The question is whether farming merits being subsidized as heavily as it is, and especially in the way that it is. Of course we need farmers. And farmers -- at least in this day and age -- need internet service providers, and people to deliver their (snail) mail, and teachers of their children (ever wonder about their pay?), and police officers, and plumbers, and nurses working nights, and people toiling in the hot sun with shovels to repair the roads that take their produce to market ...

I assume you get my point.

Several of you asked for evidence. Let's start with this:

Farm households earn an average of 20 percent more than the average American household; the average income of commercial-scale farms (which receive the largest share of subsidies) is more than three times that of the average household; and the median net worth of farm households in 2005 was close to five times greater than average.

That comes from the second bullet point of "The 2007 Farm Bill and Beyond", by Bruce L. Gardner and Daniel A. Sumner, two of the nations' leading agricultural economists.

I'll predict that those of you who are farmers and are writing from North Carolina probably disagree with that statement. And with reason. It is a national average, and is more representative of farms in the Midwest than in the East. But it is those farmers in Iowa (site of the first presidential caucus), Illinois and Missouri who are driving national policy.

Unique wrote yesterday, "The farmers I talk about inherited their farms. Do you think they should all sell out to developers so mini-estates should be grown instead?"

Anybody inheriting a farm does have a choice, and it does not always mean selling out to developers of mini-estates. Deciding what to do with an inherited farm may be difficult, but it is a choice that I am sure millions of poorer people in the United States (and elsewhere) would love to be burdened with.

As for "job security", what little I have is provided through insurance that I pay for. The U.S. Government provides an insurance system for farmers (another Green Box subsidy), but some farmers (maybe not in North Carolina) want the government also to guarantee their prices, pay them direct payments just for owning land that once grew "program crops", guarantee their markets (through food aid or biofuels), provide them with irrigation water at a fraction of the price that urban consumers must pay to procure water, etc., etc.

You say, "Farming is not the vocation of last resort." Isn't that what I said as well? It -- or, rather, providing labor on a farm -- is, however, the vocation of last resort in the least-developed countries of the world.

"Come to a true farming community ..."

I spent my formative years on a farm (one that did not receive subsidies, I should add), but my father sold it (not to a developer) and took a job on the railroad and we moved on.

Now, to the point that so many commentators seemed to be confused about:

[W]hy with this identified lack of disparity of crops that we would pay any farmer NOT to farm lands?

First of all, as I keep stressing, please understand that farm policy in the USA is driven by the concerns of large farmers (and agri-business interests) in the Midwest, and to a lesser extent California and the Deep South (especially Texas). The Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, Collin C. Peterson, comes from Minnesota. The Chair of the Senate's Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, Tom Harkin, hails from Iowa.

America's system of subsidizing crops, particularly crops that grow well in the Midwest, has a long history, punctuated by periods in which the government has encouraged planting "from fence row to fence row" (remember hearing about the Dust Bowl?). Invariably, these lead to boom and bust, and big government bail-outs. One such boom and bust followed large grain sales to the former Soviet Union, in the early 1980s. When that market dried up, the government's answer was to pay farmers to idle land, thus artificially reducing supply in order to drive up everybody's prices.

Soon, people within and outside the agricultural community realized that it was pretty inefficient to pay farmers not to farm on good farmland, so the program became more targeted, aimed instead on idling highly erodible land (which, in the absence of subsidies, farmers probably would not have plowed in the first place), and land with value for wildlife, especially ducks, deer and birds. Thus was born the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

Today's CRP is considered reasonably successful in achieving its aims. But it is important to stress that participation in it is voluntary. Not surprisingly, therefore, as prices for corn, soybeans and wheat have risen over the last year, new enrollments and re-enrollments in the CRP has plummeted.

Next:

Please explain why fertilizer prices are going up, doubling in some cases because China is growing and I guess tilling soils at a huge rate driving the demand for these fertilizers thru the roof? Is China in the WTO?

Yes, China, whose population naturally aspires to the quality of life it sees in the West, is contributing to pressure on fertilizer prices, but the main reason why fertilizer prices have risen recently is because of the Renewable Fuels Standard, which mandates specific volumes of ethanol and biodiesel in the nation's transport fuels, and the subsidies that are being provided to back up that policy.

Is China in the WTO? All it takes to answer that question for any country is to look at the WTO's website, and click on "members". You will see that the answer is "Yes": they joined (after a long accession process, during which the USA demanded -- and obtained -- many changes to China's trade policies ... did somebody say something about sovereignty?) on 11 December 2001.

Finally, I was bemused by S.C. Harrison's supposition that by referring to "liberal thinking", I am a "Conservative" with a capital "C". Hardly. However, my definition of liberal would not embrace a comment like the one Unique made yesterday in response to my point that migrant farmers do not benefit from the Farm Bill. "Migrant farm laborers can stay in their home countries", he wrote. (So much for showing appreciation to those who perform the really hard labor done on a farm.)

Mr. or Ms. Harrison then writes:

[H]e's been buying into a few myths of his own, especially when it comes to who pushed for all of the Midwest farm subsidies in the first place. They're red states, pal, and Republican Congressmen are responsible for vigorously pursuing most of the corn subsidies.

Well, pal, as you can see, the agricultural committees of the House and the Senate are now chaired by Democrats. When it comes to agricultural policy in the United States, party affiliation matters squat. Will the 2007 Farm Bill be any more sensible, any less laden with pork than previous ones produced under both Republican and Democratic majorities? Well, we can hope, but I would not bet on it.

Guess my ignorance on this topic

was exposed in a big way. Still, I do not understand how we can compete in a world economy when everyone is not paid the same.

Steamboat, good links and info, while you made a valient effort to make me smart, I think I would need an extremely long time to get smart on this topic.

I precieve the profits and profit margins are much diffrent with all the participating countries of the WTO. Is that factored in with regard to payments to the farmer?

My basic premise is I can buy grain/produce cheaper from outside the US then by buying inside. If produce from China, Mexico or any developing country is stacked up against the US, it will be cheaper??? to buy that produce outside the US, correct? I am thinking there is a disparity between what it costs to produce that hectacre of produce between the countries, correct?

If I am a US company I will look at the prices throughout the world and buy the cheapest for me, to include freight, tarrifs, etc. Our farmers cannot sell, and make a living, buy selling produce at the same price that a farm from a developing country can. Thus the US farmers produce will be bought last? This premise is what I am trying to formulate a plan to combat.

As a company, I want to make the highest profits and profit margins I can and I dont care about where I get my produce, just the bottom line dollar figure.

As me, I want our farmers to have a quality of life equal to the amount of work put into the farm. I see a problem where our farmers might be the last to have their product bought because how much they have to pay to get the product to market from a seed.

I preceive a dollar disparity for the product and supporting items needed for a sucsessful harvest. I do not want our farmers to work their butts off then to compete against other farmers who do not have to pay as much to get the produce grown. Our cost of product is i think higher then others, correct?

I mean, I do not see how Mexico could buy the produce and supporting items needed similar to US farmers without some kind of help. They are getting the products at a cheaper price, or they cannot afford to farm, correct? How can our farmers compete against that? Or am I wrong again?

Oooo my, I tried to read that programs crop link. Blew me away. Yea, farmers aint dumb if they can figure that thing out. The actual farm bill has to be even worse, and no I did not look at it, what few brain cells I have left went on strike when I thought about reading that thing. So did not click on the links.

This policy area is indeed complex

Parmea, I don't have as much time to respond today, but will try to answer your questions regarding the USA's position in the world regarding agriculture, and how the WTO deals with national differences.

I precieve the profits and profit margins are much diffrent with all the participating countries of the WTO. Is that factored in with regard to payments to the farmer?

The only distinctions that the WTO makes is between developed countries (like the USA, Japan, Australia, Canada, the EU), developing countries (like Mexico, Brazil, India, China) and least-developed countries (like Madagascar). The WTO doesn't get down to micro-managing decisions by governments over how much they pay to different groups of farmers. They -- that is, the member economies -- only agree to caps on total spending under different categories. (Remember: there is no cap on Green Box spending, such as for conservation.)

My basic premise is I can buy grain/produce cheaper from outside the US then by buying inside. If produce from China, Mexico or any developing country is stacked up against the US, it will be cheaper??? to buy that produce outside the US, correct? I am thinking there is a disparity between what it costs to produce that hectacre of produce between the countries, correct?

The USA is one of the lowest-cost producers of grains in the world. The only countries in the same league are Argentina, drought-prone Australia, Canada, the Ukraine and Uruguay. (China cannot produce grain anywhere as efficiently as the USA.) That is one of the reasons that these other countries are so irked by U.S. subsidies: they provide an unfair advantage over countries that do not have the deep pockets of Uncle Sam.

If I am a US company I will look at the prices throughout the world and buy the cheapest for me, to include freight, tarrifs, etc. Our farmers cannot sell, and make a living, buy selling produce at the same price that a farm from a developing country can. Thus the US farmers produce will be bought last? This premise is what I am trying to formulate a plan to combat.

I think that is an over-simplification. It is not as dire as that. The main (non-tropical) crop that can be produced more cheaply elsewhere is sugar. It is crazy (IMHO) that the USA continues to protect sugar production in The Everglades -- which is carried out by a handful of (very rich) companies, and is extremely damaging to that fragile environment.

Now you sound different,

but your initial post had several contempt-laden insults to the folks here in addition to the Liberal comment, so why wouldn't I assume you were a wing-nut?

Also, I've read your lengthy rebuttals here, and you do seem to have a firm grasp of trade issues as well as agricultural stuff. But I didn't see a single apology for the tone of your initial post, although I could have missed it.

Here's how it's done: I may have overreacted to the tone of your post, and I apologize.

Apologies all 'round

You are right, S.C. Harrison, when I reread my first post, I agree that its tone does sound insulting. I apologize for that. I was over-reacting also.

You know what?

You could become a valuable member of the community, if you like posting facts and figures and reasonable arguments. It's the "liberal" talk that will get you pasted.

One man with courage makes a majority.
- Andrew Jackson

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

What Robert said, Steamboat.

Many of these issues are extremely complex, and taking a position based on faulty or incomplete information won't bring about progress.

Thanks for sharing.

On liberalism

What I meant -- but I can see how it was misinterpreted -- was that I want liberal voices to be effective, but that means informed on the issues also. I did not mean at all to be advocating any alternative to liberal thinking!

Oh, and Anglico

Have a nice day.

Thanks.

You, too.

You Know, Boat -

I don't care if you're an (R) or (D), conservative or liberal. It really doesn't matter to me if you know your stuff.

That said, can you deny that NAFTA, CAFTA & SHAFTA have hurt people, namely farmers in the developing nations? In reference to this comment:

"Migrant farm laborers can stay in their home countries", he wrote. (So much for showing appreciation to those who perform the really hard labor done on a farm.)

Yes, I said the first part and yes I still mean it. From an article I read yesterday, what was common was for those workers to come here and send money back to their families. Now, things have become so difficult and with our borders closing up, they are trying to bring their families here. And it is dangerous - many of those family members are children.

I would prefer to spend our (read US) money making it better for them there, rather than luring them here for work and sustenance. Some of our policies are off the wall.

Yes, our concerns need to be protected but they don't need to be structured in such a way that people in other countries, especially our neighbors in Latin America are harmed. That's wrong. We can do better. We must do better.

If it were up to me - illegal immigrants would need a sponsor if they wanted to stay. Whether permanently or temporarily - get sponsored by another American - not related, not an employer - just a person. And vet that. I know a few I'd sign up to sponsor. They work hard! I am in awe. I can think of half a dozen Americans I'd trade to keep them. Think about that.

Thanks for the clarification, Unique

You write:

I would prefer to spend our (read US) money making it better for them there, rather than luring them here for work and sustenance. Some of our policies are off the wall. Yes, our concerns need to be protected but they don't need to be structured in such a way that people in other countries, especially our neighbors in Latin America are harmed. That's wrong. We can do better. We must do better.

It is hard to argue with that.

Regarding NAFTA, and any regional or bilateral "free-trade" agreements (RTA), one of their major problems is that while they allow for discrimination in the application of tariffs, they do not address subsidies, because it would be difficult to reduce subsidies selectively on goods exported to some countries but not to others. (This is one of many reasons why most trade economists despair at the recent proliferation of RTAs, which they see as undermining support for the multilateral approach pursued through the WTO.) Thus Mexico has over time lowered its import tariffs for agricultural products imported from Canada and the United States, but the USA was not obliged to reduce the enormous subsidies it provides to its already highly efficient corn farmers. Livestock producers and consumers of corn products in Mexico benefited from low prices, but crop farmers suffered.

the only way

to address those issues at the same time would be to have an agreement similar to what Europe has had the past few years, and there is no way we would enter into that.

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

"Keep the Faith"

Free Trade isn't 'Free'

Somebody pays. Somebody always pays ... unfortunately, it is usually those among us with the least recourse to justice.

Pity, isn't it?

The only thing that's crystal clear

to me here is that trade policy is very complex. It makes me wonder how our elected representatives in DC have the where-with-all to understand and vote on these issues with wisdom.

AgriBusiness Examiner #504

"Monitoring corporate agribusiness from a public interest perspective"

In the Inbox this morning:

WHAT IMMIGRATION BILL DOES FOR AGRICULTURAL LABOR
By Michael Doyle

Farmers and farmworkers get special attention in the big immigration compromise reached in the Senate on Thursday.

[snip]

Overcoming initial White House resistance, farmers won inclusion of an ambitious agricultural guest worker plan.

[snip]

"It's fine," Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League, said late Thursday afternoon. "It's a fair compromise, so long as somebody doesn't do anything bad to us overnight."

Overnight is when further details will be resolved, as lawmakers work through a broader immigration package now spanning about 380 pages. Negotiations could continue as late as Monday, when the Senate begins public debate and voting. Final passage is not guaranteed.

[snip]

Illegal immigrant farmworkers would become eligible for a new "Z-A" visa, granting legal status once a $5,000 fine is paid and certain other hurdles passed.

Too high! This fine is too high.

The agricultural provisions will help secure the 70 Republican votes that House leaders have said will be needed to pass the overall bill once the Senate is done, added Rep. Chris Cannon, Rep.-Utah.

White House negotiators first insisted that agriculture be treated like every other industry, prompting Cunha to charge Thursday that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff "doesn't understand agriculture well."


[snip]

The Senate's deal also includes changes that some may not like. For instance, the proposed $5,000 fine is far higher than a $500 fine proposed under the original AgJobs bill.

There is a whole lot of territory between $500 & $5,000.

IS BILL GATES TRYING TO HIJACK AFRICA'S FOOD SUPPLY ???
By Bruce Dixon

Genetically altered crops will rescue Africa from endemic shortfalls in food production, claim corporate foundations that have announced a $150 million "gift" to spark a "Green Revolution" in agriculture on the continent.

Oh, really?

Of course, U.S.-based agribusiness holds the patents to these wondercrops....

[snip]

"Poor-washing" is the common public relations tactic of concealing bitterly unfair and predatory trade policies that create and deepen hunger and poverty with clouds of hypocritical noise about feeding the hungry and alleviating poverty.

[snip]

For ADM, Cargill, Monsanto and other agribusiness giants farming as humans have practiced it the last ten thousand years is a big problem.

The problem is that when farmers plant and harvest crops, setting a little aside for next year's seed, people eat, but corporations don't get paid.

[snip]

...until recently in the developing world, farmers still planted, plowed and harvested without paying American agribusiness anything.

A thin layer of native academic, "experts" and local officials were bought off, and slick ad campaigns were told local farmers the road to prosperity was the use of vast quantities of pesticides, herbicides, and high-yield crops grown for international markets instead of feeding local populations.

The "Green Revolution" in India worked out well for the middlemen who sold the chemicals and lent poor farmers money to buy them, and for its wealthiest farmers. But when millions of farmers, on the advice foreign and domestic "experts" produced cotton, sugar and export crops for the world market instead of food to feed their neighbors, several nasty things happened. The prices for those export staples went down, so poor farmers wound up without the cash to repay loans for the year's seed and chemicals. Food which used to be abundant and locally grown became scarce, expensive and had to come from other regions or overseas. The chemicals killed many beneficial plants and insects, and promoted the emergence of newer, tougher pests and diseases.

Export crops needed more water than traditional ones, so wealthy farmers monopolized what water there was to feed their export crops. Man-made famines occurred. People starved or became dependent on imported foreign grain. Millions of farmers were forced to sell their land (or sometimes their children) to pay off their debts, and move to the cities.

[snip]

...the U.S. patent office began in the 1990s, granting American corporations exclusive "patents" for varieties of rice produced in Asia for thousands of years, for beans grown in Mexico centuries before ...

In the U.S. media this privatization of nature is called "the biotech industry". Most of humanity outside the U.S. call it biopiracy.

In the last decade, corporate "life scientists" in the biotech industry have invented, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has patented a perverse but profitable technology which prevents a current year's crop from producing usable seed for next year's planting. These "terminator seeds" will force farmers to return to corporate seed suppliers every year.

For the last 20 years, the U.S. has, with varying degrees of success, bullied, bribed and threatened governments on six continents to enforce its skull-and-crossbones patent laws through bilateral trade agreements --- think NAFTA and CAFTA --- through World Bank and International Monetary Fund dictates, and the World Trade Organization.

[snip]

Last year, the Gates Foundation hired former Monsanto VP Robert Robert Horsch as senior robert_horschprogram officer for Africa. Monsanto is the company that invented "biotechnology" and the patenting of life forms by corporations. This is the context for the "philanthropy" of the Gates and Rockerfeller Foundations, and their expressed concern for foisting a "Green Revolution" upon Africa.

the Fourth Horseman?

Suicide by Pesticide

Farmer suicide by pesticide in India:

It's an epidemic in India, where farmers try to keep up with the latest pest-resistant seeds only to find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of pesticides that don't work, drought and debt. Since 1997, more than 25,000 farmers have committed suicide, many drinking the chemical that was supposed to make their crops more, not less, productive.

Seeds of Suicide

India’s Farmers Bear Brunt of Globalization

The Suicide Economy Of Corporate Globalisation

Indian farmer suicide toll rises

On India’s Farms, a Plague of Suicide

Greg - That is Hideous!

Absolutely unforgivable!

It's an epidemic in India, where farmers try to keep up with the latest pest-resistant seeds only to find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of pesticides that don't work, drought and debt. Since 1997, more than 25,000 farmers have committed suicide, many drinking the chemical that was supposed to make their crops more, not less, productive.

More blood on our collective hands!

Mea culpa!

On India's farmer suicides

Again, there is more to this issue than meets the eye. India in general has handled integration into a globalized world with fits and starts. In India, as elsewhere, trade policy (tariffs and so forth) is made at the national level but -- in contrast with the United States -- agricultural support programs are largely funded at the state level. (A major exception is subsidies for fertilizer.)

One of the states with the worst records of farmer suicides is Maharashtra, which is also home to booming Mumbai (formerly, Bombay). A few years ago, Maharashtra started cutting back on support for its farmers, but provided very little in the form of transitional measures. Desperate, many farmers were enticed by inflated promises of wonder seeds (reminiscent of Jack in the Beanstalk!), and borrowed heavily from loan sharks to buy and cultivate them. When crops failed, they were harassed by the money-lenders, and some resorted to suicide.

It is a sad situation indeed, but probably more a result of poorly thought-out and implemented local policies than to globalization per se.

(Sorry, it just so happens I was in India a couple of months ago, and spoke to a number of reporters about this issue.)

India

In India when food exports are allowed farmers can do reasonably well but, prices go up and shortages occur causing political problems in urban areas. When exports are controlled, prices stay low and farmers need to grow more to break even, compounding the over-supply and market collapse.

Mark Tully has an account in his book "India in Slow Motion". I've been to India a couple of times and it's it's even harder to explain the coexistence of extremes having been there and witnessed it first hand.

Guests of the Nation

The current guest worker program does not work as well for workers or employers as illegal work. Rather than making guest worker status more onerous it should be made more attractive than illegal work.

A guest worker program should protect these workers' working and living conditions and secure their income so that they can concentrate on the work that employers need them for, then go home with their earnings. Abuses of guest workers by some employers and middlemen make it attractive to be an illegal "free agent" which is probably about as close to the Libertarian ideal as a person can get in the US.

Protection of intellectual property rights has gone too far

Thanks for the examples, Unique. Protecting copyright for books and music is one thing; granting patents on rice and beans is going too far.

International Food Photo Essay

Showed up in my Inbox today.

Not sent by one of the usual suspects, either.

Immigration defeat threatens N.C. crops

Kristin Collins and Barbara Barrett, Staff Writers

Now with the collapse this week of the immigration bill in the U.S. Senate, some farmers say they are angry and weary of waiting for help from Washington.

"They just want to stand outside and throw rocks. You wonder whether any of them want to do anything," said Thomas Joyner, president of Nash Produce, a Nash County cooperative that sells sweet potatoes, cucumbers and tobacco. Joyner was sorting freshly picked cucumbers late into the night Thursday and didn't realize until daybreak that the immigration deal had been scuttled, at least for now.

"They still can't solve it,"
Joyner said.

If the Senate doesn't return with a plan by Labor Day, the chances for reform would be on hold as politicians work on their re-election prospects -- meaning at least two more growing seasons with no fix. Without workers, farmers fear the worst."

Brent Leggett, who grows cucumbers, sweet potatoes and tobacco in Nash County, said his labor contractor promised him 80 workers and showed up with 32. He estimates he lost 30 percent of his cucumber crop last year.

"We had as pretty a crop as we've ever had, but we couldn't get them picked, so it didn't matter how they looked," Leggett said.

If the borders are wide open now

like they have been for the last whatever years, then there should not have been a problem of getting workers?

Brent Leggett, who grows cucumbers, sweet potatoes and tobacco in Nash County, said his labor contractor promised him 80 workers and showed up with 32. He estimates he lost 30 percent of his cucumber crop last year.

Maybe the immagrant workers are realizing that picking crops 10+ hours a day in Aug for what ever they get paid really aint worth it. How much does Mr. Leggett pay his workers and how long does he expect them to work the fields? I know bringing in a crop is miserable work, but is he paying a comprable salary for the work involved? Granted, he cannot provide year around steady work for 80 workers, but if he is not paying them appropriately, he aint gonna get noone to work for him?

If you had to work a cucumber farm harvesting how long would you wish to work a day and at what salary would you consider acceptable?

Me, personnally, I would not work more then 8 hours a day 5 days a week, and then you better be paying me about $14 an hour with breaks etc else I am not going into them fields. Then again, I hate working in the sun etc. But if your only wishing to pay me much less then that, I think the ole supply and demand kicks in here. If you do not wish to provide the demand of the service, do not expect the service to be available.

It is an assumption on my part (and yes, that could get me into bigtime trouble) but farmers do not wish to pay these immagrents a "fair" wage for the work provided. Alot of that is why the local Nash County residents might not work his fields in the first place requiring a labor company to import workers to harvest the fields? My assumption is they wish to pay these folks somewhere in the $5.75 - $7 an hour range, no overtime, untill the crop is fully harvested, 6 to 7 days a week. Maybe some peice work/bushel as a bonus maybe? but they are going to be in them fields all day.

I would like to know what is the going rate for picking the various crops these immagrants get payed and what is the working conditions like??

Unemployment rate for Nash County is 5.4%.

So there should be 50+ workers in Nash County who could work these fields?

I firmly belief

in paying a fair wage for fair work.

This is why I have always questioned why would someone travel all the way to NC to work in our fields. These immagrants ARE being abused in my opionion. They are NOT being payed a fair wage for fair work. This practice was suppose to be abolished back in the early 1900s. While the Latin American economy is extremely low, a worker working in the US should be paid a fair wage and be worked fairly.

While the above para is an idealistic pie-in-the-sky wish, the reality is, alot of these immigrants are indeed illegal, thus they are easy prey to being underpaid for the work they perform. Also, I do acknowledge that if people actually paid these folks a fair wage the price of this item would go up, I am willing to pay that price or decide not to buy that product.

With that in mind, the industry will figure out a better way to pick that product that is more effiecent. I am sure that 200 years ago noone dreamed of the combines we have roaming our fields today.

Right now, it is cheaper to pay immagrants unfairly then it is for industry to figure out a better way to work that crop.

Same thing with any other job these immigrants are working. Why would I pay a US general laborer what ever the going rate is when I know I can find some immagrants that will do the same general laborer job cheaper. And I also "know" that some of them will be illegal meaning I can pay them under the table and pay them much less then the US guy. I know these immagrants ARE a thousand miles from their family and they will work for ANY amount of money I give em.

Anyone read the grapes of wraith or any of the other books about the common man in the great depression? Guys would work any job for any amount of money. Are we doing this to the immagrants currently in this country? From what I have been hearing I firmly belief this. We are abusing these guys in a big way. Who is working for them? Who is checking to see if they are getting a fair wage for the job performed?

However, these guys are still coming to us knowing they are getting abused, but still the money is better then whatever jobs they can find in their own country. Is it proper for us to underpay them and over work them cause they might be here illegally? Is it proper for us to pay them dead minimum wage especially when minimum wage is not a "fair" wage for the job being performed? Is it appropriate for an industry to be established (the labor finding industry who gathers up these guys and delivers them to where the work is?) on the back of these people?

Again, I feel that if we are conserned about these folks, we have to help and encourage the home countries to fix their economies. To work in such away that the people wish to stay and work in their own countries and not be forced to work elsewhere.

How do we do this? I have no clue, but I do know that continuing to ignore the plight of these folks is bad also.

If you had to work a

If you had to work a cucumber farm harvesting how long would you wish to work a day and at what salary would you consider acceptable?

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