Friday, November 16, 2007

Down on the Farm Bill

San Joaquin farmers are probably paying attention to the Senate. The upper house rejected a $286 billion Farm Bill on Friday.

The failure should send the authors back to the drawing board. Not only does the bill focus too little on nutrition programs, food stamps and relief for farmers suffering the wrath of Mother Nature, it gives far too much support to agri-business farms raising crops like soybeans and corn, which don't need hard-earned tax dollars to survive.

Some family farms around our neck of the woods and across the country, however, are a different story. These smaller guys live a tenuous existence.

In 2005, San Joaquin farms received more than $14.9 million from the government in farm subsidies, with D&D Hirsch Family Partnership taking the biggest chunk, at $490,290 (Tracy's biggest, an outfit called Crimson Valley North, claimed $99,168).

That's a far cry from what's claimed by the Midwest big boys — some taking in more annually than San Joaquin County as a whole — that are no more endangered than rats in New York or lobbyists in Washington.

It'd be nice if legislators took this rejection as a chance to strip the largesse from the Farm Bill and make an effort to put the money where it makes the most impact on farmers, not on vote totals.

But with so many farm-country votes on the table during an election year, I'm not optimistic.

1 comment:

Erdos56 said...

I got distracted by your use of "upper house" to refer to the Senate. Strange, but the phrase has distinctly non-US connotations for me, so I had to look around a bit. The phrase invokes privileged lords watching over their serfs.

I truly do not understand how farm subsidies survive in a globalized free-trade universe?