I would like to express my disgust with the comments that John Phipps made at the end of his show on Sunday about how farmers should be embarrassed to take direct payments. I am a 32-year-old farmer from northern Montana and primarily grow dryland wheat, and if it weren't for direct payments I would not be farming today. We are finally starting to get some relief from a 15-year drought where our APH was completely destroyed, my insurance premium kept increasing, and the the only thing I could guarantee to my banker was the direct payment. So rather then speaking for himself, he might want to think about the rest of the country that doesn't grow corn! The farm bill is already under a lot of pressure and we certainly don't need people who are "supposed" to be pro-ag giving politicians reasons for cutting programs that keep America the cheapest food source in the world.
Editor's Note: Below are John's comments as aired last weekend on "U.S. Farm Report"
TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG. BUD PALIN FROM GAYLORD, MICH., HAS A QUERY ABOUT FARM SUBSIDIES:
"I REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR EDITORIAL COMMENTS AND WOULD LIKE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS CONCERNING THE EXPENSE AND 'VALUE RECEIVED' FROM FARM SUBSIDIES."
BUD, I HAVE COMMENTED SEVERAL TIMES ON SUBSIDIES, BUT YOUR QUESTION IS TIMELY. THE ANSWER DEPENDS ON YOUR PERSPECTIVE. AS A GRAIN FARMER, FARM SUBSIDIES ARE A NO-BRAINER. ESPECIALLY NOW, WHEN I CAN SEND AARON DOWN TO THE FSA OFFICE TO DO THE PAPERWORK.
I GET ABOUT $23 PER ACRE FOR HAVING A TEMPERATURE OF ABOUT 98° AND NOT DOING TOTALLY STUPID THINGS TO MY FARM, SUCH AS PLOWING UP FRAGILE SOILS.
FOR THE REST OF AMERICA, AND COINCIDENTALLY MOST OTHER FARMERS, THE PICTURE IS REVERSED. TO BE SURE, THE COST IS TRIVIAL -- A FEW CENTS PER PERSON PER DAY -- BUT MULTIPLIED OVER MILLIONS OF TAXPAYERS, IT AMOUNTS TO BILLIONS.
WHAT THEY GET IN RETURN IS SOMEWHAT VAGUE. FARM PROGRAM PAYMENTS NO LONGER HAVE MUCH EFFECT ON WHAT OR HOW MUCH IS PRODUCED, AND, DESPITE EFFORTS TO LINK THEM, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE SUBSIDIZED CROPS ARE SAFER OR MORE ABUNDANT. ECONOMISTS ARE HARD-PRESSED TO FIND ANY EVIDENCE THEY HAVE MUCH EFFECT ON FOOD PRICES EITHER.
THE BOTTOM LINE FOR ME IS A PERFECT SCAM FOR MY PROFESSION -- A LEGAL SKIMMING OF TAX REVENUES IN EXCHANGE FOR DOING WHAT I WOULD DO ANYWAY. DESPITE THIS, I AM AMUSED TO WATCH EVEN AVID BUDGET HAWKS LIKE SEN. RAND PAUL KNUCKLE UNDER TO THE AG LOBBY.