The planting season is in full swing and the seeds are ready to germinate. The miracle of growth and synthesis
awaits the gentle rain and the warm sun. But for the noble tillers of the land, the gift of life has arrived early. No need
for anxiety of this seasons weather. The harvest has just been guaranteed. Yes, the 'great white father' in Washington
is showering his benefits upon the plains of our good earth.
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, has just passed the Congress and is off for the President to sign. You remembered his tortured logic
- part of the war on terror requires a strong farm sector . . . Well, this farm bill that will shower $171 billion dollars in new subsidies on political battleground states and scrap the 1996 law
that was intended to make growers less dependent on the government.
What we have is the reunion of the down home comedy show Hee Haw. The return of Largest Corporate Welfare Program. "Current farm policy allocates two out of every three farm subsidy dollars to the top 10 percent
of subsidy recipients, while completely shutting 60 percent of farmers out of subsidy programs. The ceilings that are
in place on most farm subsidy programs are rarely enforced by Congress or the Department of Agriculture, and contain several
loopholes allowing the largest farms and agribusinesses to bypass these limits. The results is a system charging taxpayers
billions of dollars towards subsidizing the largest farms, who then use these funds to buy out small farms and consolidate
the agriculture industry."
Is anyone surprised that the reform of a mere few years ago is being reversed with the ease of running funds
through the loopholes that still existed under those regulations? The real story lies with the government’s own Farm Bill Conference summary.
This program offers more selections than on your super market shelves. It kind of reminds one of another Animal Farm. One that introduced us to the character of Mr. Jones, that one time decent master to his animals. Next
appears Old Major who criticizes the boss: "Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give
milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough , he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord
of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving and
the rest he keeps for himself." His program offers an easy life. Just ask the corporate benefactors of this new "Investment
Act"! They love the improvement to their bottom line.
So what's the problem with these pigs - Napoleon and Snowball? Why don't they ever agree and just cash their
checks? Their feud will only result in one taking over the pen of the other. Not enough slop to go around and only the strong
will survive . . .
Just what is an Old Benjamin to do? He just seems to carry on, adapts and hates all those forms to fill out
and agencies to deal with. Farming is not exactly what it once was!
Well, that other Mr Jones was a grandpa, played a banjo and had a mischievous grin. His presence on the Hee
Haw set was marked with his response to that familiar question: "what's for supper?" His answer: "Corn bread
and gravy. Candied yams. Butter beans. Blueberry cobbler. The more to eat, the more to spare."
The contrast between the elder Jones who represents the spirit and hope of the growers of crops, and the villain
Jones who ruled his herd under a failed government farm system, is stark. The former plays his music at the Grand Ole Opry,
while the later oversees the tune of the bankruptcy farm auctions of grandpa’s neighbors.
So what is the value of this new farm act? The venerable Union Leader offers this response: "Economically, there is no sound rationale for transferring billions of dollars
from non-farmers to farmers, or more specifically to large corporations that operate farms. Heck, large farm subsidies actually
are an economic drain on the country and the world. They raise prices of agricultural goods for everyone, which further increases
the amount taken from non-farmers and given to farming companies." It should be evident from the title to their report
- Farming for dollars: Ag-subsidies bill throws your money to the pigs.
What we have are the usual political motives working against the interests of the Nation. Bribes for votes,
payoffs for contributors, enlarge bureaucratic regulation and increase state powers under the excuse of war time diversion.
Is this an Animal Farm without the Hee Haw amusement, or what? What's a mere $71 billion increase over the next decade! It's
only tax money, and we all know you can’t eat government tribute . . .
SARTRE - May 11, 2002