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See the latest reader comments and hear John explain some of agriculture’s complex topics.
Viewers Tackle Wind Energy and Sugar Subsidies
May 03, 2011
***Editor's Note: The following are more viewer comments received following the April 30-May 1, 2011 edition of U.S. Farm Report...
#1: John, Your comments regarding wind energy remind me of many of the comments I've heard regarding ethanol as a renewable energy source. While I am well aware that any new form of large-scale energy production will need some sort of government assistance to get started, the fact remains that we must start somewhere. Any form of energy, whether it be from fossil fuels, the destruction or creation of the atom, agriculturally-produced materials, or directly from the sun itself, requires large investments of capital in the course of its discovery and implementation. The private sector, while involved in the research process, cannot provide all the input for these kinds of massive infrastructure developments. The problem, as I'm sure you're aware, is that we have not found effective ways of phasing out these forms of government assistance, the oil industry being a case in point.
You have stated in the past that your farm is primarily a means of harvesting solar energy. I'm sure you would agree that the only real form of sustainable energy (at least for as long as humans can inhabit this small world) is the sun itself. Since I'm a firm believer in the notion that a complaint without an offered solution is counterproductive at best, my question to you is this -- where would you have us start? How much taxpayer assistance is appropriate?
I watch the show every week, and enjoy getting the news about a part of the country in which I grew up. By the way, I also love your occasional comments about directing the church choir (I did a stint about 15 years ago) and Star Trek. Not a rabid Trekkie, but I still enjoy the re-runs. Best wishes for this planting season, and stay safe!
#2: I just wanted to compliment you for summarizing the special privileges that are afforded a very few sugar growers by the U.S. Government. Could you provide me with the summary in written form? Or direct me to the source of your data. The concise delivery was spectacular and inspiring. Please let me know,
***Editor's Note - the following is a transcript of John's Comments on this topic...
TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG...I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS E-MAIL COMING WHEN I TOUCHED ON THE SACRED SEVEN CROPS - THOSE THAT ENJOY GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS TO ENRICH GROWERS.
JOHN GUDAJTES WHO APPARENTLY WORKS FOR CRYSTAL SUGAR FIRED OFF THIS OBJECTION:
"SUGAR IS NOT A SUBSIDIZED COMMODITY, IT ONLY HAS A LOAN PROGRAM THAT IS SELDOM USED, GET YOUR FACTS CORRECT"
JOHN, I HAVE WEARIED OF THIS NARROW DEFINITION OF A SUBSIDY, BUT IN THE MOST USUAL SENSE YOU ARE CORRECT. LET'S STOP KIDDING OURSELVES, THOUGH. GETTING A CHECK FROM THE U-S TREASURY AND HENCE U-S TAXPAYERS ON ONE HAND, AND HAVING THE U-S GOVERNMENT FORCE CONSUMERS TO SEND A CHECK IN THE FORM OF HIGHER SUGAR PRICES ON THE OTHER IS, IN MY VIEW, MERELY SHIFTING WHICH PORTION OF THE POPULATION IS BEING SHAKEN DOWN THE U-S SUGAR PROGRAM HAS FORCED AMERICANS TO PAY ROUGHLY TWICE THE WORLD PRICE FOR SUGAR FOR DECADES. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT 2 BILLION DOLLARS IN HIGHER SUGAR COSTS EVERY YEAR. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST CONCENTRATED OF ALL COMMODITY PROGRAMS WITH HALF THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS ACCRUING TO LESS THAN 20 GROWERS. THROUGH SUPPLY CONTROLS AND TRADE CLOSES THAT PREVENT DEVELOPING NATIONS USING THEIR NATURAL COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE WE HAVE A GLARING HYPOCRISCY. IT IS STRICTLY SPEAKING NOT A SUBSIDY THOUGH, I THINK ITS SOMETHING WORSE.