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Transcript of Farm Subsidies
The government first attempted to control the agriculture economy during the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s, when many farmers were in debt due to the overproduction of crops ("Agriculture”).
To resolve this issue, Franklin Roosevelt passed the Agriculture Adjustment Act, which allowed the government to control production by paying farmers to not grow food on a certain percentage of their land (Masterson). A few years later, Congress turned this act into more permanent legislation, creating the farm subsidy (Masterson).
The yearly cost to the American taxpayer varies depending on their income. Out of every citizen’s income tax payment, 1.15% goes toward agriculture (“Your”).
The historical cost data is that since 1995, $256 billion dollars have gone towards farm, disaster, and crop insurance subsidies (“2013”).
Less than one percent of the total federal budget (around 0.6%) is spent on this program relative to other programs (“Fiscal”).
The impact of this program on price stability, full employment, and economic growth is that it keeps the price of agricultural products relatively constant, even with uncontrollable events and overproduction, it keeps farmers employed by paying them back money they have lost from crops, and by ensuring a constant food source, for a fair price, it allows the economy to grow and prosper.
The potential impact beyond the direct payment recipient is that a farm subsidy could lead to a vast amount of land dedicated to agriculture in a certain area.
Professional opinions against the program are that we should get rid of farm subsidies because they are a waste of taxpayers’ money; most subsidy payments currently go to large farms and agribusinesses, which don’t even need the money, rather than to smaller “family farms” (Griswold). In addition, farmers that are paid subsidies don’t even grow important nutritional food that are essential to the human diet, such as fruit and vegetables; subsidy farmers only grow what they’re paid to grow: corn, soy, wheat, cotton and rice, which is why they do not deserve the subsidies they receive (Bittman). Also, it is argued that money toward farm subsidies should be reduced since it would lower food prices, it would lower costs for U.S. industries that use agricultural commodities in their final products, it would save U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, and it would enhance the environment by reducing the amount of top soil lost and damaging fertilizers and pesticides used by American farmers (Griswold).
Farmers benefit from this program because it protects them if an unfortunate event were to occur, that results in a loss of crops, and therefore, money to the farmers. Subsidies pay farmers back for such losses.
Professional Opinions (cont.)
Professional opinions in support of the program are that farm subsidies are extremely beneficial to both farmers and consumers, or the economy as a whole, since the subsidies create a stable farming system by giving farmers the support they need to produce large harvests of food, the subsidies allow farmers to compete in the market, and the farm subsidies prevent the possibility of price spikes and other negative effects (“Farm”).
"2013 Farm Subsidy Database." EWG Farm Subsidy Database. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2014. http://farm.ewg.org/
"Agriculture Subsidies." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 16 Jul. 2014. http://www.encyclopedia.com
Bittman, Mark. "Don't End Agricultural Subsidies, Fix Them." The New York Times. N.p., 01 Mar. 2011. Web. 16 July 2014. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/dont-end-agricultural-subsidies-fix-them/
"Farm Subsidies Pros and Cons." HRF. N.p., 30 Mar. 2014. Web. 16 July 2014. http://healthresearchfunding.org/farm-subsidies-pros-cons/
"Fiscal FactCheck." FactCheck.org. N.p., 15 July 2011. Web. 16 July 2014. http://www.factcheck.org/2011/07/fiscal-factcheck/
Griswold, Daniel, Stephen Slivinski, and Christopher Preble. "Ripe for Reform: Six Good Reasons to Reduce U.S. Farm Subsidies and Trade Barriers." Cato Institute. N.p., 14 Sept. 2005. Web. 16 July 2014. http://www.cato.org/publications/trade-policy-analysis/ripe-reform-six-good-reasons-reduce-us-farm-subsidies-trade-barriers
Masterson, Kathleen. "The Farm Bill: From Charitable Start To Prime Budget Target." NPR. NPR, 26 Sept. 2011. Web. 16 July 2014. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/09/26/140802243/the-farm-bill-from-charitable-start-to-prime-budget-target
"Your 2013 Federal Taxpayer Receipt." The White House. The White House, n.d. Web. 16 July 2014. http://www.whitehouse.gov/2013-taxreceipt
Funding for Farm Subsidies should not be Continued
Although farm subsidies were once useful during the Great Depression in improving upon the economy, the program has now been largely taken advantage of, and is more of a harm to the economy than a benefit. Therefore, funding toward far subsidies should be discontinued. It is unfair for taxpayers to give their money up to the government for the purpose of paying farmers that do not even need financial assistance; this money should go toward a more purposeful program, which actually promotes economic growth.