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Farmer to AJC on Farm Subsidies: "We're playing a game."

Monday, October 2, 2006

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is running an investigative series that examines many aspects of farm subsidies.

U.S. subsidies for cotton and selected other crops, born in the Great Depression to protect against the occasional bad year, have become a multibillion-dollar entitlement. The program undermines free trade and props up big farmers at the expense of small growers both here and abroad.

By guaranteeing growers a minimum price, subsidies encourage them to plant what Washington will pay for, not what would earn a profit on the free market.

"We're just playing a game," said Stephen Houston Sr., a Miller County cotton farmer. "[Market] prices don't have anything to do with what we're doing. We're just looking at the government payments."

It's called "farming the subsidy," and it has turned many farmers -- once symbols of self-reliance -- into government dependents.

Read more:  How savvy growers can double, or triple, subsidy dollars  How your tax dollars prop up big growers and squeeze the little guy  Who gets cotton aid? Ted Turner, nuns in Illinois ...

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