Post Letters Go Unpublished

November 3, 2011

Following its anti-farm editorial last week, The Washington Post received two letters to the editor taking exception with its extreme stance.  Not surprisingly, the newspaper failed to publish either letter, so Farm Policy Facts obliged.

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Dear Editor:

By any reasonable measure, your calling for the termination of U.S. farm policy is extreme.

The Post editorial board calls for the elimination of crop insurance on the same day that the Houston Chronicle reports that crop insurance has saved Texas farmers from ruin due to drought, though, according to the article, experts say the amount covers only about a third of the losses across the state.

Tell a Washington homeowner that his indemnity on a lost house merits an indemnity of a third of the house’s value and see what his response is.

The Post editorial board’s call for the elimination of the rest of U.S. farm policy also falls on the same day The Wall Street Journal reports the farm economy that has helped bolster the overall U.S. economy and keep the unemployment rate down is showing signs it is about to sputter.

I have always found your argument that U.S. farmers and ranchers should have to compete in a global market distorted by heavily protected and subsidized foreign competitors uninformed.  But your new aim to also deny producers insurance is especially punitive.

Sincerely,

Dana Peterson

CEO, National Association of Wheat Growers

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Dear Editor,

Your most recent editorial attacking rural America is way off base in calling for the complete elimination of U.S. farm policy.

For you to mock the impending ramifications of an exploding world population, when already we have seen what happens to countries who are reduced to states of political and social chaos due to the lack of a stable domestic food supply, is irresponsible and downright wrong.

The ability to feed, clothe, and fuel ourselves is a national security priority, which is why respected figures like retired Army General Wesley Clark, have taken a stand in urging Americans to “hold the thin green line” of U.S. farmers with sound policies like the ones you so smugly distort.

Your editorial was right about one thing: The farming community has been asked to step forward before in the name of deficit reduction.  It stood alone in making sacrifices, and what’s left is already arguably too weak to provide the protection that most farmers need if prices plummet or floodwaters rise.

It’s no secret that farming is a risky business—in fact the one certainty seems to be that what goes up must come down.  “Farm income, buoyed by high prices and strong exports,” as you say, will not last forever.  That income is rarely pocketed, but invested back into the land, equipment, and other expensive but necessary inputs for an operation to maintain its production year in and year out.

And those strong exports?  They’re one of few bright spots left in a sputtering economy.

Farmers understand that cuts will be made again, but they ask that Congress allow those who understand agriculture, decide where those cuts should fall. If the super committee goes at this with an ax rather than a scalpel, they will neuter farm policy—and weaken U.S. agriculture—altogether.  And if that happens, this nation will face a bigger problem than monetary debt.

Sincerely,

Larry Combest (R-TX)

Former Congressman and Chairman of the House Agriculture and Intelligence Committees