Friday, August 03, 2007
Democrats Fail to Reform Farm Bill
The pessimistic side of me is not surprised, though I had held out some hope that the current Democratic congress might be slightly less beholden to big corporate interests than the Republicans were. No such luck. Last Friday the House passed a Farm Bill, largely keeping intact the existing system of subsidies for big agribusinesses, and without the Kind/Flake Amendment which would have put a cap on subsidies for any commercial farms with an average gross income greater than $500,000. The God's Politics blog has a good article on the issue. I've written on this topic before as well.

The basic problem with our current system of farm subsidies is that most of the money, which was originally intended to help support small struggling farmers through seasons of drought and market fluctuations, instead goes to large corporately owned farms to encourage them to grow cash crops like corn, wheat, soybeans, etc. (which is why junk food is so much cheaper than healthy food - but imagine if the subsidies were reversed and you could get organic vegetables and prime grade meats for cheaper than a box of Coco Puffs!).

Adam Taylor in the God's Politics article explains:

Billions of dollars of price support subsidies will go to commodities such as wheat, soybeans, and cotton, resulting in one of the greatest heresies in the religion of free trade, let alone fair trade. These subsidies lead to overproduction and distort prices on the international market, making it almost impossible for poor farmers across the developing world to compete and earn their way out of poverty. Ironically, the interests of the small cotton farmer in South Carolina are much more aligned with poor farmers in Africa than with the agribusinesses and large commercial farms that keep winning the lion's share of Farm Bill benefits.

In other words, these subsidies are basically corporate welfare, enabling the rich to more effectively keep the poor from climbing out of poverty - and they do it by actually thwarting the normal workings of the free market! It's pathetic that the Dems didn't have the cajones to stand up to these corporate interests and do what was best for the whole public interest. This just shows how broken our system really is, and why you can't really count on either major party to act justly.

The Farm Bill now moves to the Senate, so there is still time to enact real reform of this corrupt system. I'd encourage you to contact your senators, let them know you care, that you want them to take a stand, and that there will be a real political cost for them if they fail to act. You can find the contact info for your Senator at


posted by Mike Clawson at 11:13 AM | Permalink |


At 8/05/2007 03:22:00 PM, Blogger Derek Berner

Hey Mike,

I gave up my faith in the Democrats when John Kerry made it onto the national democratic ticket. The current democratic race is looking no better and seems to be based on a philosophy of "it's high time we had a minority president" rather than any actual merit these candidates have.

I appreciate the bipartisanship in congress to be sure, but apparently there's no bipartisanship as far as corporate interests are concerned.

How closely are you following/how do you feel about Ron Paul's presidential campaign? He seems to be the only congressman left with any integrity. My pessimistic side says he'll never make it but I'm going to be voting republican in the primaries because of him.


At 8/05/2007 05:30:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Hey Derek,

I too was rather disappointed by Kerry's nomination back in '04. Currently I'm tentatively supportive of both Obama and Edwards, but still waiting to see how things play out.

I'm not really a Libertarian (I've been intending to write a blog post about why not for some time now but I never quite get around to it), so Ron Paul doesn't really appeal to me, though I do agree with some of his positions. The short version is that I think what we need is a just government, not just less government. In that regard, Kucinich actually lines up more with my beliefs than any other candidate at this point - I just wish people like him stood a chance at getting nominated/elected.

But anyhow, I haven't made any decisions yet and I don't intend to any time soon. I don't care if the media wants to start the race a year early, I'm not ready yet to put all my chips on one horse.