Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

January 17, 2014

Milking the farm bill

Down on the farm, the latest news is the battle over dairy policy that thwarts passage of a new five-year package of federal subsidies for agriculture — and the nutrition aid for low-income families that is attached to the bill. The conflict pits the Democratic-majority Senate, which wants to boost dairy farm incomes in part by limiting milk supplies, against the Republican-led House, whose leader, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, calls the Senate approach “Soviet-style.”This story of partisan bickering — true enough as far as it goes — does not quite do justice to the wasteful absurdity of the entire dairy-subsidy effort.

Start with the fact that dairy farmers are beseeching Congress now to undo damage that Congress did through past efforts to aid corn farmers — specifically, mandating the addition of vast quantities of corn-based ethanol to the nation’s fuel supply. This forced dairy farmers to compete with ethanol producers for grain to feed their cows. Grain prices have shot up over the past half-decade or so and become more volatile. With their operating margins shrinking, dairy farmers ran to Capitol Hill — even though the government already had helped them to the tune of $5.3 billion between 1995 and 2012, according to the Environmental Working Group.

The House and the Senate obliged; each body’s version of the farm bill contains a new “margin insurance” program that pays farmers when the difference between their operating income and their operating costs goes below a certain amount. Unlike previous “safety net” programs, however, this one would cover large-scale, high-income producers; farms with more than 1,000 cows would get 36 to 43 percent of the benefits, as opposed to 6 percent under current law, according to the University of Minnesota Food Policy Research Center. How this helps mom-and-pop operations in the long term is not obvious.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Remember the pledge Editor:The county board chairman is not being factual with his recent comments concerning the Public Safety Tax Pledge made by the 2004-2010 County Board.First of all, the debt we were facing was caused by the foolish actions of nine board members of

    July 31, 2014

  • Back to the future for death penalty? The surreal national debate over the death penalty reached a climax of sorts July 23 in a prison execution chamber in Florence, Arizona. Double murderer Joseph Wood was put to death by lethal injection shortly after his lawyers went to the Supreme Co

    July 31, 2014

  • Reduce property tax Editor:The regular July meeting of the Rend Lake Conservancy District Board of Trustees is always interesting, and this year was no different. It is at this meeting that the board makes the annual tax levy for the district. Like every year, the debat

    July 31, 2014

  • Away from the tyranny ‘Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency,” the late poet Maya Angelou reflected in an interview with USA Today in 1988. “We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”What a poem Angelou might have written about

    July 31, 2014

  • No Headline Provided House and Senate conferees have agreed on a $17 billion bill to address the scandal over poor health-care service at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation is now on a fast track to pass Congress before its August recess, showing that Re

    July 31, 2014

  • Shackled by 'dead men' In theory, the American people’s elected representatives decide every so often how much to tax the public and how to allocate the revenue among various priorities, both short-term and long-term. In practice, however, Congress and the president have a

    July 31, 2014

  • Close the tax loophole that sends US corporations overseas Since we last overhauled our federal tax code, in 1986, countries around the world have lowered their tax rates, leaving the United States with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed word. At the same time, the system has become full of inef

    July 29, 2014

  • Israel and the U.S.: Whose survival instinct is stronger? There’s something darkly coincidental in the fact that the latest weapon to be deployed against the survival instinct of both Israel and the United States is an alleged “heartlessness” when it comes to children. The people of Israel are castigated in

    July 29, 2014

  • College cost isn't big problem for poor students To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting mo

    July 29, 2014

  • Ducks, geese a blessing I would like to respond to the “Geese and ducks causing problems in Veterans Park” article that was published in the Mt. Vernon Register-News on July 16, 2014. I must share that I do understand that at times there have been a great number of the Cana

    July 29, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks