No more bailouts for factory farms
by desmoinesdem, Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 08:48:43 PM EDT
If your widget factory produces too many widgets, you will be stuck with extra inventory, affecting your bottom line.
In contrast, if your factory farm contributes to excess production of pork, high-level elected officials will ask the federal government to bail you out.
I learned from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement today that last week nine governors, including Iowa's Chet Culver,
requested $50 million of taxpayer money from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) to buy over-produced pork off the market. This follows similar requests made by the National Pork Producers Council in early May and Iowa Secretary of Ag Bill Northey in June.
The hog factory industry, though, has received two recent taxpayer-funded bailouts from USDA -- one for $25 million in March 2009 and the other for $50 million in April 2008 -- to buy over-produced pork off the market. [...]
Ag economists have warned for months that the pork industry must stabilize prices by trimming the fat and reducing the herd size. But the pork industry has ignored basic economic rules and continues to increase supply as demand goes down. This is the result of continuous government subsidies and bailouts to the factory farm industry.
"Corporate ag receives government subsidies and guaranteed loans that promote the expansion of factory farms on the front end," said CCI member Lori Nelson of Bayard. "And then, when they produce too much pork, they ask the government -- that's us -- to bail them out with huge amounts of taxpayer dollars. The factory farm industry is a house of cards that would crumble as soon as you take away taxpayers propping them up."
The governors of Nebraska, Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Illinois and Oklahoma joined Culver in signing the appeal for federal aid. According to DTN/The Progressive Farmer, "Representatives from the Iowa and the National Pork Producers Councils, Tyson Fresh Foods, Hormel Foods and Paragon Economics support the letter's three proposals for aid."
I've posted the full text of Iowa CCI's press release at Bleeding Heartland. There's no reason to exempt corporate agriculture from basic laws of supply and demand. Taxpayers already pay too much to subsidize factory hog farms, not to mention the hidden environmental costs of air and water pollution.