Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Monday, April 25, 2005

On Family Farms

I grew up on a family-owned dairy farm. When my father and his twin brother started selling milk in 1949 they were getting more per hundred pounds (the unit at which bulk milk is priced) than they were in 1970 when they sold out. Every time the price of milk went up on the store shelves, their check was reduced.

Government subsidies were set up to prevent such as this from happening. Unfortunately, the bulk of crop subsidies go to large factory farms and to wealthy investors. Thirty years ago I read that Queen Elizabeth and Bob Hope were large beneficiaries of government farm subsidies. Do people like that really need that much corporate welfare?

Americans pay a higher price for sugar than they need to because of government support for the sugar beet industry, which also hurts sugar cane growers in Latin America.

Here is the proposal: Farm subsidies should be for small family farms. Agricultural enterprises above a certain level should be discontinued. Major producers should not be given the use of public land for grazing, etc. at below market value rates.

At the same time, trade negotiations should be worked out with third-world farmers to provide a market for their produce in such a way that it would not hurt small American farmers. The details for such an arrangement are not clear at this point, but the idea does deserve further study.


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