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Friday, December 14, 2007

Farm Program Pays $1.3 Billion to People Who Don't Farm*

*Farm Program Pays $1.3 Billion to People Who Don't Farm*


This article, found on *www.washingtonpost.com*<http://www.washingtonpost.com/>,
talks about a federal government subsidy program that has taken on a life of
it's own. A republican bill, passed in 1995, was meant to reduce the
complexity of the existing farm subsidies, and to eventually wean farms off
Rooselvelt era provisions that were enacted to protect farmers during the
depression. The 1995 republican bill was called the Freedom to Farm, and
the bill provided a cash subsidy based on acreage and past productivity.

The problem is, the payments were unrestrictive. Farmers and land
owners received the subsidy whether they grew the subsidized crop or not.
Not only could farmers switch to less expensive crops and still receive rice
crop money, but they didn't even have to grow anything at all. Real estate
in certain farmland areas was being marketed to potential buyers with a
promise of these subsidies, even for purely residential buyers. While they
were supposed to be transitional, the republicans in congress, bowing into
the pressure of the farm lobby, eventually made them a cyclical recurring
subsidy. The bill has had unintended consequences, such as effectively
killing off the rice farming in Texas, since there was little incentive to
grow the crop, due to subsidies coming regardless of productivity.

*Symptoms of an economic depression*

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