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dirtbagathlete

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This is an interesting discussion in regards to subsidies... I went searching and found this discussion. It's worth the read.

 

Should the United States Cut Its Farm Subsidies?

Daniel T. Griswold, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, and Bob Young, chief economist for the American Farm Bureau, debate whether the United States should be subsidizing its farmers.

http://www.cfr.org/publication/13147/

 

(edited to fix link)

Edited by wfinley

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Somehow factories found a way to get by without using child labor, and farmers will have to find a way to grow crops without paying below-market rates for their labor, or go out of business. Farmers are businessmen, and why they should be exempt from the rules that every other class of enterprise has to abide by is beyond me.

 

The small problem for that is climate....

 

Farmers already have moved abroad in order to supply fresh fruits and vegetables when those would normally be out of season. Their are strawberry fields in the middle of Baja that are being picked in January. The pickers and the season move north as the year progresses.

 

One need only look where a majority of the subsidies end up - in the pockets of large corporate farmers - to see that subsidies should end and end soon.

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What will eventually happen if the borders are ever brought under control, and we decline to follow the Euro-model of creating a class of unassimilated guest workers - is that crops that can be harvested mechanically will continue to be grown in the US, while labor intensive crops will be grown where the labor is cheap.

 

Growing labor intensive crops in Mexico instead of using the current de-facto labor subsidy for farmers would bring about important social and economic benefits for both the US and Mexico.

 

Somehow factories found a way to get by without using child labor, and farmers will have to find a way to grow crops without paying below-market rates for their labor, or go out of business. Farmers are businessmen, and why they should be exempt from the rules that every other class of enterprise has to abide by is beyond me.

As you know, this will result in higher food prices for Americans. Personally, I agree with this--they (we) should pay the true cost of food. But I understand that there would be a great deal of resistance to this. And what makes it worse is that raising these prices on healthy foods (albeit, they would be healthier if organic) makes cheap junk food look even more attractive. Then, we all pay more as the medical system continues to stagger around like a clogged artery.

 

 

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And as for paying below market rates, there is actually a little more complicated pay structure going on here. (I suspect that it came about simliarly to restaurant workers who have a differnent pay rate).

Farm workers are subject to the lower min-wage rule, as you know. But they also often qualify for a seperate wage rate depending on what they are farming. Cherries, for instance, pay out per bucket. Depending on the year, a picker can make $15/hr or more. The worker only gets min. wage if he doesn't pick enough buckets to make the min. And of course, he is usually let go if his performance is that bad. Also, a number of workers also share in a year-end bonus depending on how the crop did.

 

I assume that the market-rate you refer to should, logically, be derived from what the market will bare. If people will work for these rates and fill the positions needed, then the going pay rate is pretty close to correct, no?

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Ever checked out the going rate farmers pay for water in California? There are a number of them for whom farming is now a side business. Their main source of income is reselling the subsidized water they get from the Feds to LA and the growing suburbs. Buy at $10 acre/ft sell for $500

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Screw cutting down factory emmissions, just get the queen to tour the ranch's of the world and teach those cows some manners.

 

I don't know much about cows. Never seen one.

 

Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, but there's a catch. Methane bleeds out of the atmosphere within 10 years. It takes 100 years for CO2.

 

Let's all eat only burgers for a year, then become vegan. That should take care of the problem right quick.

 

Oh, and all you Smart Wool wearers should think about the damn planet for a change and put on some polypro.

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Ever checked out the going rate farmers pay for water in California? There are a number of them for whom farming is now a side business. Their main source of income is reselling the subsidized water they get from the Feds to LA and the growing suburbs. Buy at $10 acre/ft sell for $500

I have more problems with the "growing suburbs" part of that than the water subsidy for farms. If sububanites are willing to pay more to water their lawns, let them. It doesn't get the farmer (or, more accurately, the large agriculture conglomerates who are actually doing this) off the hook, but don't make the farmer shoulder all the blame for this.

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Maybe you grew up in a farming background and these things don't phase you. But to someone who has never worked a farm or an orchard, they are in for a great surprise when they take on that cute little hobby farm.

 

I grew up on a 'Green Acres' style farm run by an ex New Yorker.

 

In any case, this is an excellent point, BUT...there is hope. When I was back in MN by brother in law, who heads the Land Stewardship Project headquartered there, started a program through that organization that a) provides education and peer assistance for new farmers and b) connects farmers with 'eaters' in the city to stabilize demand and reduce risk. The key is that family farms, which most Americans think is a thing of the past, are making a comeback. It's a great lifestyle for folks who want to raise a family in a healthy environment and not work in some bullshit cube somewhere making some other asshole rich. With this new infusion of young, highly educated farmers, there has been an infusion of culture in rural MN that is pretty cool. I went to their annual meeting and the mix of folks was unique; everything from uber hippies (who actually worked hard, that is) to Norwegian bachelor farmers that had made the switch to sustainability.

 

The benefits of family farms verses factory farms is: a) more local control b) healthier communities (by far), c) healthier food, and d) fewer middle men. When you own it, you tend to take care of it a little better.

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A word about subsidies...

 

Subsidies were originally introduced to reduce risk due to weather or infestation. Fair enough. They were originally pegged to production on just a few scheduled crops, mostly grains. The result, of course, was a gross overabundance of those crops using the most environmentally damaging methods possible. Quantity verses quality.

 

So subsidies changed to pay farmers NOT to grow glutted crops, based on acreage. The land had to have been planted in that crop at one time. The result, of course, was land speculation by holding companies who had little to do with farming, particularly large insurance companies.

 

The end result was two decades of the worst soil loss and water pollution in our agricultural history, and an inabilty for family farms, which tend to produce a variety of crops to reduce risk, to compete with factory farms, which produce (or not) only crops on the subsidy schedule as cheaply as possible, without regard to long term soil/water health.

 

Subsidies are helping to destroy the land we depend on for food. Family farmers are completely against them. Agribusiness and land holding companies lobby hard to keep them, so they survive year after year. The current push for 'ethanol, the green fuel', is just another bullshit campaign to keep this scam alive and well.

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Finally, regarding cheap food.

 

Yes, as more sustainable agricultural practices are employed, food prices (and quality) will go up. The reasons food prices have been so low are artificial. One is subsidies. We've largely borrowed the money to keep those going. The other is long term soil health. We've denuded our soil health through conventional practices in the long term to produce cheap food in the short term. The fast food industry has provided the demand for this.

 

With America being so damn tubby, can anyone argue that food could stand to be a little more expensive and higher quality?

 

As an example, the number one use of corn (the most environmentally destructive crop) is for feed; a food cows can't actually eat without getting really sick. Antibiotics keep those cows from keeling over. The alternative is grass, which cows can eat, but that requires more time to get the cow up to selling weight. Beef gets a little more expensive and less plentiful, but it's a lot better for you and the land is sustainably healthy. This seems to be a good trade off, in my book.

 

The second largest use of corn is for high fructose corn syrup, which primarily goes into soft drinks, which, as well know, are essential for human life. All of this corn production is heavily subsidized.

 

What's wrong with this picture?

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Yes. It ain't crab fishing or police work, but far more people die in agriculture than in cubes.

 

I'd say more people die of boredom in their cubes than anywhere else.

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Somehow factories found a way to get by without using child labor, and farmers will have to find a way to grow crops without paying below-market rates for their labor, or go out of business. Farmers are businessmen, and why they should be exempt from the rules that every other class of enterprise has to abide by is beyond me.

 

The small problem for that is climate....

 

Farmers already have moved abroad in order to supply fresh fruits and vegetables when those would normally be out of season. Their are strawberry fields in the middle of Baja that are being picked in January. The pickers and the season move north as the year progresses.

 

One need only look where a majority of the subsidies end up - in the pockets of large corporate farmers - to see that subsidies should end and end soon.

 

Then that's a problem for Mexico, and the corrupt and ineffectual administrative class that's kept the population mired in poverty for the past century will have to figure something out or contend with the angry, jobless young men that they've been exporting to El Norte on their home turf.

 

I also think that reducing the de-facto labor subsidy will put quite a premium on developing machine-harvestable variants of crops that currently have to be picked by hand, and new machines to do the harvesting.

 

 

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Ever checked out the going rate farmers pay for water in California? There are a number of them for whom farming is now a side business. Their main source of income is reselling the subsidized water they get from the Feds to LA and the growing suburbs. Buy at $10 acre/ft sell for $500

I have more problems with the "growing suburbs" part of that than the water subsidy for farms. If sububanites are willing to pay more to water their lawns, let them. It doesn't get the farmer (or, more accurately, the large agriculture conglomerates who are actually doing this) off the hook, but don't make the farmer shoulder all the blame for this.

 

One way to reign in the conversion of prime farm land to McMansions (a development which environmentally sucks ass) is urban growth boundaries. It's farm land...so don't even try to speculate on it, fuckers.

 

This drives up the price of real estate within the growth boundary, which leads to densification, which is a more energy efficient and environmentally sound way to go into the future.

 

Want your dream home in the country? Buy an existing one or learn how to drive a tractor.

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I also think that reducing the de-facto labor subsidy will put quite a premium on developing machine-harvestable variants of crops that currently have to be picked by hand, and new machines to do the harvesting.

 

 

Mexbots.

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And as for paying below market rates, there is actually a little more complicated pay structure going on here. (I suspect that it came about simliarly to restaurant workers who have a differnent pay rate).

Farm workers are subject to the lower min-wage rule, as you know. But they also often qualify for a seperate wage rate depending on what they are farming. Cherries, for instance, pay out per bucket. Depending on the year, a picker can make $15/hr or more. The worker only gets min. wage if he doesn't pick enough buckets to make the min. And of course, he is usually let go if his performance is that bad. Also, a number of workers also share in a year-end bonus depending on how the crop did.

 

I assume that the market-rate you refer to should, logically, be derived from what the market will bare. If people will work for these rates and fill the positions needed, then the going pay rate is pretty close to correct, no?

 

Yup - but if the only people who are willing to work for those rates under those conditions are illegal aliens who lack other options, then the odds are good that the rate that they are paying isn't the market rate.

 

It would be kind of interesting to compare the total value of welfare payments (per recipient) to the total compensation of agricultural workers (per worker) in order to see if we have artificially contstrained the labor market for farm workers by creating a class of people who can earn a higher "wage" by doing nothing, rather than working in fields.

 

If that's the case, then the farmers would be justified in claiming that labor market distortions created by the government are part of the reason why they can't attract labor at true market rates.

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I also think that reducing the de-facto labor subsidy will put quite a premium on developing machine-harvestable variants of crops that currently have to be picked by hand, and new machines to do the harvesting.

 

 

Mexbots.

 

There'd be quite the cosmic econo ying/yang thing happening if this hypothetical class of harvesters were produced on Mexican assembly lines...

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I also think that reducing the de-facto labor subsidy will put quite a premium on developing machine-harvestable variants of crops that currently have to be picked by hand, and new machines to do the harvesting.

 

 

Mexbots.

 

 

There'd by quite the cosmic econo ying/yang thing happening if this hypothetical class of harvesters were produced on Mexican assembly lines...

I wonder if their yellow ostrich cowboy boots would actually be made of kevlar?

 

In any case, that would spell end of taco trucks, and that would make me muy bummed out.

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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A word about subsidies...

 

Subsidies were originally introduced to reduce risk due to weather or infestation. Fair enough. They were originally pegged to production on just a few scheduled crops, mostly grains. The result, of course, was a gross overabundance of those crops using the most environmentally damaging methods possible. Quantity verses quality.

 

So subsidies changed to pay farmers NOT to grow glutted crops, based on acreage. The land had to have been planted in that crop at one time. The result, of course, was land speculation by holding companies who had little to do with farming, particularly large insurance companies.

 

The end result was two decades of the worst soil loss and water pollution in our agricultural history, and an inabilty for family farms, which tend to produce a variety of crops to reduce risk, to compete with factory farms, which produce (or not) only crops on the subsidy schedule as cheaply as possible, without regard to long term soil/water health.

 

Subsidies are helping to destroy the land we depend on for food. Family farmers are completely against them. Agribusiness and land holding companies lobby hard to keep them, so they survive year after year. The current push for 'ethanol, the green fuel', is just another bullshit campaign to keep this scam alive and well.

I agree with what you are saying.

 

And I would like to see more family farms--hell, I come from one.

 

I am just a bit skeptical when moon-eyed city folk start talking about getting a little farm, yadda yadda (not directed personally obviously). I am happy to hear about the ed programs going on; and hope that it weeds out the pie-eyed and helps ease the shock to those who actually buy and run a farm.

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And as for paying below market rates, there is actually a little more complicated pay structure going on here. (I suspect that it came about simliarly to restaurant workers who have a differnent pay rate).

Farm workers are subject to the lower min-wage rule, as you know. But they also often qualify for a seperate wage rate depending on what they are farming. Cherries, for instance, pay out per bucket. Depending on the year, a picker can make $15/hr or more. The worker only gets min. wage if he doesn't pick enough buckets to make the min. And of course, he is usually let go if his performance is that bad. Also, a number of workers also share in a year-end bonus depending on how the crop did.

 

I assume that the market-rate you refer to should, logically, be derived from what the market will bare. If people will work for these rates and fill the positions needed, then the going pay rate is pretty close to correct, no?

 

Yup - but if the only people who are willing to work for those rates under those conditions are illegal aliens who lack other options,

Here, let me help.

 

Option 1: stay home.

 

Option 2: get your citizenship and pay taxes.

 

I didn't even need a Ph.D to come up with those two.

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A word about subsidies...

 

Subsidies were originally introduced to reduce risk due to weather or infestation. Fair enough. They were originally pegged to production on just a few scheduled crops, mostly grains. The result, of course, was a gross overabundance of those crops using the most environmentally damaging methods possible. Quantity verses quality.

 

So subsidies changed to pay farmers NOT to grow glutted crops, based on acreage. The land had to have been planted in that crop at one time. The result, of course, was land speculation by holding companies who had little to do with farming, particularly large insurance companies.

 

The end result was two decades of the worst soil loss and water pollution in our agricultural history, and an inabilty for family farms, which tend to produce a variety of crops to reduce risk, to compete with factory farms, which produce (or not) only crops on the subsidy schedule as cheaply as possible, without regard to long term soil/water health.

 

Subsidies are helping to destroy the land we depend on for food. Family farmers are completely against them. Agribusiness and land holding companies lobby hard to keep them, so they survive year after year. The current push for 'ethanol, the green fuel', is just another bullshit campaign to keep this scam alive and well.

 

 

Are you smoking crack? "family farms" like small businesses in every sector of the economy will only survive in niche markets they can compete effectively in. They can't compete or provide the services/price people want for the mass market (whether tha mass is Safeway or Whole Foods). They are D E A D

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It would be kind of interesting to compare the total value of welfare payments (per recipient) to the total compensation of agricultural workers (per worker) in order to see if we have artificially contstrained the labor market for farm workers by creating a class of people who can earn a higher "wage" by doing nothing, rather than working in fields.

 

If that's the case, then the farmers would be justified in claiming that labor market distortions created by the government are part of the reason why they can't attract labor at true market rates.

 

This from memory, but I remember reading that the average welfare payment is less than $500 a month. This does not include subsidized housing or food stamps.

 

Last year, during the picker shortage, pickers in E. Wa could make $150 a day...more in a week than you could make in a month on welfare. Plus, their dinero is worth even more south of the border.

 

Part of the labor shortage stems from a lack of population 'willing' to work those jobs in rural areas. This creates a demand for a migratory labor force that the area could not support year round.

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It would be kind of interesting to compare the total value of welfare payments (per recipient) to the total compensation of agricultural workers (per worker) in order to see if we have artificially contstrained the labor market for farm workers by creating a class of people who can earn a higher "wage" by doing nothing, rather than working in fields.

 

If that's the case, then the farmers would be justified in claiming that labor market distortions created by the government are part of the reason why they can't attract labor at true market rates.

That would be interesting.

 

And as a side note--I really believe farmers can't attract laborers because farm work is actual work. With all our non-tag-playing fat-assed spoiled children growing up self-entitled and all full of self-esteem, I don't see that changing.

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I am just a bit skeptical when moon-eyed city folk start talking about getting a little farm, yadda yadda (not directed personally obviously). I am happy to hear about the ed programs going on; and hope that it weeds out the pie-eyed and helps ease the shock to those who actually buy and run a farm.

 

I'd be skeptical too, but this description didn't characterize the people I met in MN. Many had grown up on farms, and wanted to continue the lifestyle, so they knew what they were getting into. Others had degrees in agriculture; farming was a long term goal they carefully worked towards.

 

Just my anecdotal experience. Farming tends to slam folks who aren't willing to put in what it takes pretty quickly, so the 'moon eye' factor probably isn't much a problem.

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Are you smoking crack? "family farms" like small businesses in every sector of the economy will only survive in niche markets they can compete effectively in. They can't compete or provide the services/price people want for the mass market (whether tha mass is Safeway or Whole Foods). They are D E A D

 

Carl, Carl, Carl. You are, if nothing else, the byproduct of a post post modern society.

 

Have you ever heard of a coop? The farmers I met sold part of their production under their own brand names, to local grocery chains, farmers markets, and delivery networks (you know, the box of veggies on your doorstep once a week), and the rest of their production to a coop which serviced larger, more regional/national grocery chains. This reduced the risk you speak of. Have you noticed the organic produce section in EVERY large supermarket nowadays? Where do you think that stuff comes from?

 

Have you also noticed that more people are NOT buying their produce from Safeway anymore? As direct farmer to city supply chains spring up, and they are doing so all across the country very rapidly, the supermarket produce section becomes more irrelavent.

 

If you don't believe this is possible, think about shopping now (via the web) verses 20 years ago. Or any aspect of American life 20 years ago, for that matter.

 

Sustainable agriculture is is hardly a 'niche' anymore, and hasn't been for some time. By definition, sustainable agriculture is a mandate: if the soil dies, so do we.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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It would be kind of interesting to compare the total value of welfare payments (per recipient) to the total compensation of agricultural workers (per worker) in order to see if we have artificially contstrained the labor market for farm workers by creating a class of people who can earn a higher "wage" by doing nothing, rather than working in fields.

 

If that's the case, then the farmers would be justified in claiming that labor market distortions created by the government are part of the reason why they can't attract labor at true market rates.

 

This from memory, but I remember reading that the average welfare payment is less than $500 a month. This does not include subsidized housing or food stamps.

 

Last year, during the picker shortage, pickers in E. Wa could make $150 a day...more in a week than you could make in a month on welfare. Plus, their dinero is worth even more south of the border.

 

Part of the labor shortage stems from a lack of population 'willing' to work those jobs in rural areas. This creates a demand for a migratory labor force that the area could not support year round.

 

Just thinking out loud on that one - but just to continue the exercise further, you'd probably have to find the pay-threshold at which working extremely hard in hot fields becomes more desirable than earning less pay for doing nothing.

 

If X is the pay for doing nothing, and it's enough to live on, then I imagine that they pay for working hard in a field would have to be some multiple of X in order to persuade people to accept the trade-off.

 

I can only imagine the response if someone suggested cutting off welfare payments - at least during harvest season - to able-bodied males and childless women who weren't in some kind of a training program, and who refused offers of employment from farmers at whatever wage rate was in effect at the time.

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