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Scorn Storm Continues for Farm Subsidies

Friday, February 12, 2010

Trimming profit-ensuring farm subsidies to the largest growers of cotton, corn and rice continues to be a hot topic since president Obama announced his intentions to reform the wasteful programs.

First in our roundup is this piece in the San Jose Mercury News where  subsidy recipient John Vidovich is holding onto the hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer assistance he so despises.

Vidovich on Tuesday said that while his family has a large agricultural operation and qualified for the payments, "I'm against the farm payment system. We participate in it because it's there, but I'm against it."

The lavish farm subsidy program defenders keep making the case the billions in payments are needed despite the latest USDA data showing net farm income rising by 12% in 2010, and assertions from  recipients that they don't want them anymore.

Next is national Associated Press reporter Steve Karnowski's look at the stiff opposition the president faces from commodity program defenders. The AP piece also noted a new political wrinkle:

Still, some critics said the deficits and changing political winds could give them an opening.

Sallie James, an analyst with the libertarian Cato Institute, said it will be interesting to see whether anti-Washington sentiment, shown by the rise of the Tea Party movement, helps turn farmers against government supports.

In accord with the Tea Party theme, the Minneapolis City Pages reminded readers that Minnesota's congressional delegation's love for government commodity crop programs is a bipartisan effort. Huffington Post blogger Jane Hamsher goes even further, writing:

Agricultural subsidies are one of the biggest forms of corporate welfare around, and there's a big corporate push underway to convince the tea party activists that they're not. They are.

And now the editorials are rolling in.

A Washington Post editorial called out farm state lawmakers for their  knee-jerk reaction to the reform proposal, labeling them "Agri-hypocrites":

Business as usual is leading the United States down the road to financial ruin. And the fatuous hypocrisy of self-proclaimed deficit hawks who then go to bat for welfare to well-to-do landowners is endangering us all.

While the St. Petersburg Times (FLA) said in their "five ways to get this country back on a sounder footing."

End income-tax deductions for property taxes and mortgage interest, and eliminate farm subsidies.

In another Florida paper, the Palm Beach  Post, columnist Tom Blackburn writes:

The feeling of déjà vu that hangs over the Obama budget becomes particularly piquant at the agricultural subsidies, the big checks paid to big corporations that are defended with images of the small family farmers the corporations bought out years ago. Mr. Obama wants to cut them by $11 billion over 10 years.

Well, so did his four immediate predecessors. Mr. Obama's effort will produce real bipartisanship as farm state senators lock arms across party lines to block it. Bipartisanship is amazingly durable in a cause like stopping something opposed by important constituents.

Moving on to the other coast, California's Nappa Valley Register in its "tips on how to win the deficit war," urged:

Kill farm subsidies. It’s true that nature can damage farmers. It’s also true that in another industry, a rival’s new product can ruin a company.

And the Santa Maria Times was more succinct:

Eliminate farm subsidies.
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