Last month, Farm Policy Facts explored the insanity of telling farmers to “get a second or third job.”
As you’ll recall, that piece explained how farm critics are celebrating the fact that farm families are turning to off-farm income to make ends meet. Critics contend that farmers can pick up an extra shift or two at the local mill, so we don’t need a Farm Bill to deal with things like weather disasters, or trade wars, or volatile price swings.
We didn’t think agriculture’s critics could get more out of touch, or heartless. But, they did.
The “thinkers” who inhabit DC’s ivory tower think tanks now want farmers to work for free.
Yes, you read that right. In fact, here’s the Cato Institute’s view on farm policies that help growers survive low prices:
Food is essential for human survival and we would all be better served if its price was, like sunlight and air, zero. The benefits of cheaper food and reduced hunger easily outweigh any losses borne by the farm sector…. The best farm bill is none at all.
How we stumbled upon this little socialist gem is just as significant as Cato’s words.
Cato is part of a cabal that has its sights set squarely on America’s sugar farmers and their policy, which operates without taxpayer cost. Why? As the cabal’s ring leader noted in a recent meeting of farmer haters, “If we can get rid of sugar policy, then we can get rid of all the other farm programs as well.”
Now, in a new policy analysis, Cato is asking for “modest reforms” to America’s no-cost sugar policy – calling on lawmakers to “modernize” that part of the Farm Bill.
Sugar producers have long been wary of words like “reform” and “modernize” when used by agriculture’s opponents, explaining in a recent post:
In candy-coated Washington-speak, the terms “modernize” and “reform” are synonymous with “weaken” and “eliminate.”
So excuse America’s sugar farmers for being offended and outraged when the Coalition for Sugar Reform recently asked them to support the Sugar Policy Modernization Act.
That’s the exact same bill that Cato endorsed in the conclusion of its recent policy analysis.
So, how does the bill “modernize” sugar policy? It mandates that the U.S. Department of Agriculture invite heavily subsidized foreign imports into the U.S., artificially depressing farmer prices and rewarding bad actors abroad.
Worse yet, the bill denies sugar producers the basic non-recourse loans available to other commodities, meaning failure to repay would result not just in the loss of crops pledged as collateral but in total bankruptcy.
Doesn’t sound too “modern.” Sounds more like something out of Dickens.
And government-mandated imports of subsidized foreign sugar doesn’t sound like something a group like Cato would support either…until you dig further and see that Cato’s goal is to eliminate the Farm Bill altogether.
As we weave through this 2018 Farm Bill debate, let’s not lose sight of the special interests’ ultimate objectives as they lobby to make “reforms” to sugar, crop insurance, ARC and PLC, dairy, and other critical components of the farm safety net.
“The best farm bill is none at all” may be the best outcome for a few anti-farm zealots at extreme-minded think tanks, but it isn’t the best policy for people who actually put food on our tables and clothes on our backs.