Saturday, January 27, 2007



Below you will find excerpts from a series of articles the Washington Post did in 2006 on the myriad effects of the fed govt's subisdy program to farmers (read: corporations in farmers' clothing, such as Archers Daniel Midlands, who is swimming in swimming pools filled with hundred dollar bills now that Pres Bush said the words "alternative sources of energy," which the stock market/Bush reads/writes as "ethanol" - hey! forget actually trying to use less non-renewable source of energy!...)

The last farm bill, bulldozed into governance with heaps of booty spoils for corporate friendlies by a Rep. Combest from, what a coincidence, West Texas, has now expired. What will happen next? Well, big business of course is bullying everyone into guaranteeing the collapse of local markets around the world so that the US can hoard unreal amounts of commodities, so that prices stay propped for thousand-acre farms.

Hey, they have the puissance! They have air-conditioning in their combines!

Farm Program Pays 1.3 billion to People Who Don't Farm

Washington Post - Sunday, July 2, 2006 - Even though Donald R. Matthews put his sprawling new residence in the heart of rice country, he is no farmer. He is a 67-year-old asphalt contractor who wanted to build a dream house for his wife of 40 years.

Yet, under a deferal agriculture program approved by Congress, his 18-acre suburban lot receives about $1300 in annual "direct payments," because years ago the land used to grow rice.

Matthews is not alone. Nationwide, the federal government has paid at least $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all...

A program intended to cost $36 billion over seven years instead topped $54 billion.

"The farm policy we're pursuing now has no rhyme or reason, and we're just sending big checks to big farmers," said Gary Mitchell, now a family farmer in Kansas who was once a top aide to then-Rep. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the 1996 bill's House sponsor. "They're living off their welfare checks."

Aid to Ranchers Was Diverted For Big Profits
Tons of Powdered Milk Ended Up on the Market

By Gilbert M. Gaul, Sarah Cohen and Dan Morgan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, July 19, 2006; A01

When a drought left pastures in a handful of Plains states parched in 2003, ranchers turned to the federal government for help. Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture quickly responded with what they considered an innovative plan.

They decided to dip into massive stockpiles of powdered milk that the agency had stored in warehouses nationwide as part of its milk price-support program. Livestock owners could get the protein-rich commodity free and feed it to their cattle and calves. The milk would help ranchers weather the drought while the government reduced its growing stockpile.

But within months, the program spawned a lucrative secondary market in which ranchers, feed dealers and brokers began trading the powdered milk in a daisy chain of transactions, generating millions of dollars in profits. Tens of millions of pounds of powdered milk intended solely for livestock owners in drought-stricken states went to states with no drought or were sold to middlemen in Mexico and other countries, a Washington Post investigation found.

Taxpayers paid at least $400 million for the emergency milk program, one of an array of costly relief plans crafted by Congress and the USDA to insulate farmers and ranchers from risk. In some cases, ownership of the powdered milk changed hands half a dozen times or more in a matter of days, with the price increasing each time. A commodity that started out being sold for almost nothing was soon trading for hundreds of dollars a ton.

Aid Is a Bumper Crop for Farmers

By Gilbert M. Gaul, Dan Morgan and Sarah Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, October 15, 2006; A01

In the spring of 2000, Congress decided to do something about its costly and politically driven practice of giving farmers a disaster payment each time a storm damaged their crops.

The lawmakers voted to use $8 billion in new taxpayer subsidies to help farmers buy crop insurance to protect them against losses. The insurance would replace the disaster payments and reduce government costs.

But shortly after passing the Agricultural Risk Protection Act, Congress lost its fiscal will. One week before the presidential election, it passed a new $1.8 billion disaster bill to assist farmers hurt by bad weather. Two others followed in subsequent years, totaling more than $6 billion. Today, after a searing drought in the Plains, farm-state legislators are pushing for billions more in aid.

The result is that farmers often get paid twice by the government for the same disaster, once in subsidized insurance and then again in disaster assistance, a legal but controversial form of double-dipping, a Washington Post investigation found. Together, the programs have cost taxpayers nearly $24 billion since 2000.

The government pays billions to help farmers buy cheap federal insurance, billions more to private insurance companies to help run the program and billions more to cover the riskiest claims. And on top of all that, it spends billions on disaster payments....

"Everybody says the money is free, but we're all paying," said Charles Fisher, a central California farmer who helped oversee government disaster payments in his area for a dozen years. "Washington unbundles the money, opens the window and turns on the fan."

...Dettler and other farmers are counting on more help. In late August, Conrad staged a rally of 400 farmers in Bismarck supporting a multibillion-dollar aid package to help farmers and ranchers in the western part of the state, which has been beset by drought. He was joined by Gov. John Hoeven (R).

The drought has actually helped Cavalier County by drying out fields that had been flooded; farmers there are harvesting one of their best crops in a decade. But Dettler said he hopes there is a disaster program to cover his 2005 losses.

"We depend on it being there every other year," he said. "It's an election year, and everyone's involved this time."

"It's feast or famine here. Economically, does it make sense? Probably not. Philosophically, I don't know. Americans want cheap food, and they want it when they want it."

Federal Subsidies Turn Farms Into Big Business

By Gilbert M. Gaul, Sarah Cohen and Dan Morgan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 21, 2006; A01

...The very policies touted by Congress as a way to save small family farms are instead helping to accelerate their demise, economists, analysts and farmers say. That's because owners of large farms receive the largest share of government subsidies. They often use the money to acquire more land, pushing aside small and medium-size farms as well as young farmers starting out.

"Historically, when you think of family farms, you think of Mom and Dad and three generations working a small or mid-sized farm. It gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling," said Alex White, a professor of agricultural economics at Virginia Tech. "In the real world, it might be a mid-sized farm. But it also might be a huge farm. It might be a corporation."

Large family farms, defined as those with revenue of more than $250,000, account for nearly 60 percent of all agricultural production but just 7 percent of all farms. They receive more than 54 percent of government subsidies. And their share of federal payments is growing -- more than doubling over the past decade for the biggest farms...