(Page 2 of 2)
According to Wayne Arnold reporting in the New York Times (“Surviving Without Subsidies”), the government of New Zealand changed hands in the mid-1980s “and essentially canceled handouts to farmers…agriculture here has never been the same.” Arnold claims that the farming community was “devastated — but not for long.”
“Today, agriculture remains the lifeblood of New Zealand’s economy,” says Arnold. “There are still more sheep and cows here than people, their meat, milk and wool providing the country with its biggest source of export earnings.”
Arnold quotes the president of the Federated Farmers in the Waikato region in the heart of the country’s dairy region, who served at the time of the policy shift: “Farming in New Zealand is now a cold, hard business…I think we have benefited hugely.”
Arnold documents the sound business and scientific approaches which New Zealand farmers now use to achieve financial success in a global market. The changes were obviously difficult, but the result was an agricultural sector more entrepreneurial and legitimately proud of its accomplishments.
Tobacco is not everyone’s favorite crop, but it does provide a useful case study supporting the proposition that the end of federal subsidies does not mean the end of farming, just the end of the federal gravy train.
Lauren Etter, writing in the Wall Street Journal (“U.S. Farmers Rediscover The Allure of Tobacco”), describes the boom in tobacco farming that has occurred three years after the federal government stopped subsidizing it. Driven by increased demand in China, Russia, and Mexico, U.S. tobacco acreage has risen 20 percent. Etter focuses on tobacco in southern Illinois which hasn’t grown any significant amounts of the crop since the First World War.
Even factoring higher labor costs for immigrant workers, Etter describes farmers netting up to $1,800 per acre compared to $250 per acre for corn a crop blessed by both commodity subsidies and ethanol support by Uncle Sugar. One farmer has boosted his income by 35 percent in the last three years.
Simply put, there is no justification for continuing a Depression-era subsidy program for tobacco, corn, soybeans, or sugar, to name just a few of the usual suspects.
This writer would like to report that congressional Republicans have stood on their free-market principles and resisted this ongoing raid on the Treasury. But I would be lying to you if I did. Farm subsidies are bipartisan sins that reflect a deep corruption in our body politic.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?