The family farm

2009 June 26

Some of the comments over on that post Stace wrote about the “Congress-created Dust Bowl” signs have made me think about the government handing out subsidies — whether water-related or otherwise – to farmers, ranchers, loggers and well really everybody. I don’t agree at all with subsidies.

I think it’s a damned shame if you can’t make a living off the farm or whatever, but I don’t for the life of me understand why I should be handing you cash through government hand-outs to help out. If you can’t make a living at what you’re doing you should probably look around for something else to do.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m born and bred in the Ozarks and farming is definitely a part of my family. I have nothing but respect for the job they do as I would rather do just about anything than farm. I like living in a rural setting, but actually farming for a living strikes me as only slightly less mind-numbingly boring than say… watching paint dry for a living.

First you have to look at the fact that most farming subsidies are rammed through the government by the clever use of the “American Family Farm” crisis and fashioned as the only way to save our historic way of life. The fact that most of the cash made available seems to be handed out to big corporate farms is almost never mentioned. Because really who wants to go out of their way to save big corporate farms, anyway? Well except for the big corporate farmers and the politicians they buy that is.

Second you have to really think about this save-the-family-farm business. I suppose I could quote a line from Pride and Prejudice here when I admit that, “I’m not romantic, you know. I never was.” But frankly, I don’t know why we need to go out of our way to save the family farm. If the family farm isn’t capable of making it then maybe its time has passed. And, while I like farmers just fine, I don’t know what makes them any more worthy of being saved than say the family buggy-whip makers or the family candle makers that we as a society allowed to fade into history years ago.

I understand that the farmers think they should be saved and that a subsidy is a good idea. Why wouldn’t they? They desperately want to hang onto their way of life. But that way of life doesn’t seem to be working out. I would desperately like to sit at home in my boxers and live off writing blog posts every day. But since the BlogHer ads are only bringing in about $12.38 per month and Congress has yet to enact a Blathery-Blog-Post-Writer’s subsidy… I have to subsidize my dream of living off my blathery wits on my own… with a job. Surely the farmer can get an outside job if needed to make ends meet if they are really committed to staying on the farm.

The whole thing smacks of socialism to me. I thought we were all worked up and scared to death that President Obama was going to make us a socialist state… have any of those people who were so horrified at the idea looked around at what has been going on in this country for years and years? It’s certainly not just farmers getting subsidies. Trucking companies get them if they will provide schooling to disadvantaged newbies. I know there for a while the scuttlebutt about a couple of the biggest newbie trucking companies who had schools was that they made as much from government handouts related to the schools as they did hauling freight. Seriously? What the hell? No wonder they can bid to haul freight for rates so low that owner operators can’t compete.

What do you all think? Am I wrong on this idea? Do I have things turned around in my head? I just think all subsidies should end immediately. To big and small alike. Quit giving the big corporations federal handouts of any kind. That would go a long way toward leveling the playing field. Then let everyone compete as best they can. If whatever you’re doing doesn’t work out then you need to look into something else. Sorry.

Unless they want to enact a Blathery-Blogger subsidy of some sort. That would be ok I guess. :)

12 Responses
  1. 2009 June 26
    Chaos permalink

    Hi Mom. I was just wondering… are subsidies like stimulus money? I just wondered because we have been told that the program I am in is being payed for with stimulus money, so it made me wonder what the difference was. In fact, one of the groups is going to be making a film about all of us and what we are doing, so that they can send it to Washington to show them how well we are doing, and how much their money has helped.

  2. 2009 June 26

    In my experience the arguments against subsidies are used when attempts to categorize them as social Darwinism fail. The corporatocracy likes them just fine when they are the recipients. Any recipient other than themselves is social engineering or social darwinism.

    When it is the corporatocracy they are “too big to fail”. When it is an individual that gets money to go to truck driving school it is a subsidy. I got Federal money to go to school to learn to drive, so I am speaking from experience. Otherwise I would not have been able to learn.

    And I’m all for the subsidy for blog blatherers, in case a vote is being taken. Just sayin.

  3. 2009 June 27

    Hey Kid!

    They are similar. Farm subsidies are generally given to farmers based on how much of a crop they grow and to insure a certain price for them at market. There is an interesting article at Wikipedia about it.

    What you are talking about sounds more like an incentive program given to the business you’re working for to provide local jobs. The feds are probably providing a part of your salary. By feds I mean… me… and Decorina… and Salena… and… well everybody. And we all expect you to do a good job for us so get to bed and get a good night’s sleep. :) Oh wait… it’s Friday night so I guess you can stay up a little while. :) !

    Truthfully, I don’t think any of us are in any kind of position to simply write a check for the education that we need to improve our lot in the world. Whether it is an Ivy League College or driver training at the local tech college, education costs have gone sky-high.

    I’m all for student loans. I think they are great and provide access to a whole new way of life for many of the recipiants of them. I’m still paying off student loans from college. (sigh)

    I’m not sure I agree with simply providing money to someone so they can get training of some sort. When Stace was at trucking school, there were like seven people in her class. Stace and the other women had both paid their own way and all five of the men were there because the plant they had worked at for years had closed down, their unemployment benefits had run out, and the state was offering them trucking training free of charge in an effort to get them back on their feet.

    The thing was that while both of the people who had scraped and saved to be able to afford school had firm plans in place to team with their spouses, not one of the guys intended to actually drive a truck. They made no secret of the fact that they had no intention of ever going over the road. They were simply there because the government was insisting that they get some sort of training in order to continue receiving benefits. So not only did we have to scrimp and save to send myself and then Stace through school we were also sending those five guys who had no desire for or interest in the training. That’s not cool.

    So yes, YoungOne, your program is probably of a similar nature. And that means that you are honor-bound to do your very best and make the most of the opportunity. If you repay the opportunity you are given by acting honorably and using it to change your life for the better, I don’t think anyone could ask anything more of you.

  4. 2009 June 27
    Chaos permalink

    I guess I didn’t really realize just how many people had made this program possible. So to everyone: Thank You!!

    I think that the people who run the program did a good job of making sure that the people they picked to be in it actually cared, and weren’t just there to waste time.

    I for one can honestly say that I intend to use this opportunity to the fullest. Hopefully it will be just the stepping stone I need to get myself into the career path that I have been working towards.

    Thank you again everyone.

  5. 2009 June 28

    have any of those people who were so horrified at the idea looked around at what has been going on in this country for years and years?

    Big hugs to you. You couldn’t have been more dead on in every way in this post. From the above line to the farmers to everything. Nice. :)

  6. 2009 June 28
    punxxi permalink

    what do you think of the governmet paying farmers NOT to grow a certain crop?do they use the land to grow something else and make a double profit that way? Farm subsidies are a joke, they are no different than paying some fool that bought a house they never should have in the 1st place because the gov’t told them they \deserved\ it. A few years back i watched a special on farm subsides, just happened to coincide with the last time they cried loud enough for the gov’t to reverse their standing on doing away from it. they interviewed quite a few farmers that said the only ones the always need it are those that don’t know how to manage their funds, as in buying new stuff every year when you don’t need to i:e a new truck or harvester etc. you can lease harveting equipment and mostly anything else you need for farming ( yeah i have lived on a farm and a ranch before).dayum i am an oppinonated biatch!

  7. 2009 August 1
    Denise permalink

    Ok, I’ve tried posting a comment 3 times now, and don’t seem to get the anti-spam word right. Now I have to write “nitwits game”. Is this a hint?

  8. 2009 August 1

    Argghhh! Finally I get it right when I don’t leave the comment. Last try. What I wanted to say is that I found your blog through “ask”, and I’m really enjoying it. But I wanted to say this about “family farms”. Try takng your own post about “the real price of fuel” and adapt it to farming. Small farms can’t compete with agro-industry, and go bust. Agro-industry moves in, takes the land, and implements insecticides, pesticides, monoculture, genetically manipulated crops, cheap seasonal labour and anything else that boosts productivity regardless of any effects to the landscape, environment, local communities or quality of food. What do we lose? Diversity, choce, communities, local flora and fauna, healthy food. What price then, subsidies? Not saying that all fanily farms are good, but I certainly don’t want my choice of something as essential as food being dictated to me by profit motivated agro-industry conglomerates.

    P.S. What does Boobery” mean? Your boobs go up and down?

    • 2009 August 1

      Hi Denise,

      And welcome. Anyone who appreciates “Ask” is always someone we’d like hanging around. Stace says I should point out right off the bat that I wrote “Family Farm” while she wrote “The Real Price of Fuel” and that she doesn’t agree with some of what I say in “Family Farm” while at the same time she defends my right to be completely wrong. :) Also, she says, “Hi, and welcome.”

      I think you have a valid point — to an extent. We’ve already seen some of it in trucking just as there has already been some of what you’re talking about in farming. I guess for me it’s a matter of how do you want to pay the piper. Cause I think we all know at least one piper is going to be standing there right next to you with their hand out at any given time.

      Let’s take farming. If there were no subsidies of any sort — including to big agro-industry — then the little family farm more than likely couldn’t compete with the big guys in producing food for the mass market at rock bottom prices. For one thing they don’t have the “economy of scale” or whatever it’s called on their side.

      But they do have the ability to become highly specialized. They can offer organic veggies, free-range animals, and fruit that was only picked by the light of the full moon by virgins wearing flowing purple caftans. By catering to people who demand higher quality, they could charge a lot more for their output than the big farm that is going for market dominance by charging the lowest price possible.

      Here’s where it all comes together for me… a subsidy is something we all pay whether we want to or not. Whether we eat that particular food or not. While higher prices at the grocery store only affects those of us who are committed to virgin-picked fruit or whatever. For myself, I would rather pay more at the grocery store for the food I buy than pay a bunch of subsidies to farmers growing thing like hummus that I am never going to eat again of my own free will.

      And oddly enough I just experienced this last month when we were at home and I went grocery shopping. For the first time in my life I actively looked for Organic veggies and bought them almost exclusively. I didn’t mind the higher price (much) because now that we’re all crazy health focused it seemed like the thing to do.

      Stace will of course likely have an entirely different take on it… probably with 33% less blather. :)

    • 2009 August 1

      Oh yeah the Boobery reference is to the current amount of general stupidity (boobery) we are having to deal with from our uber-stupid company. I don’t think my boobs will actually go up anymore… unless I were upside down I guess… they probably would then. :)

  9. 2009 October 30
    Christine permalink

    Apparently those of you who mentioned growing up on a farm or being from families of farmers never actually payed much attention to the politics or management of the business… Subsidies are important in the fact that they allow the government to regulate domestic food prices so that you can afford to eat whatever you like and at the same time we as a nation can compete globally with food prices which accounts for a majority of that food you probably don’t like. Everyone wants to be a budding environmentalist these days but do a little more research and look beyond your own political ideas… look up websites on USDA and FSA. There is a lot more to farming than sitting in a chair and watching the grass grow, or ‘paint dry’.

  10. 2010 September 29

    I always motivated by you, your views and attitude, again, appreciate for this nice post.

    - Murk

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