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Farm Subsidies: Rebutting Europe’s KickAAS


I previously rebutted The Guardian’s video on ethanol.1  More recently, I ran across your farm subsidy work, your “Kick-AAS” web site, “Kick all agricultural subsidies,” and your “editorial that launched kickAAS.”  (“Kicking the Subsidies: Third world farmers need a fair deal,” The Guardian, 8/18/03, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/aug/18/foreignpolicy.wto).  I understand your desire to kick some butt regarding the incredible absurdities of US and European farm programs. Unfortunately, I see a need to rebut, to do some major reverse butt kicking, even though I seem to share your values and your general goal.

 

I offer a different view, a different paradigm.  This is a U.S., “family farm movement” perspective (with significant NGO and LDC farmer support worldwide2). I argue several points. First, I summarize the differences between your view and mine, then I go through your original editorial, paragraph by paragraph.  It’s a rebuttal of some key points.  I strongly agree with some others.

 

Second, please understand up front that I favor ending all farm subsidies.  That’s in the new paradigm too.  Below I show why my approach is radically better than yours, why yours would essentially be a total failure.  Yes, my remarks so far may sound strange.  They’re strange, but true, according to my documentation.

 

Third, I have only a few contacts with Europe, but I’ve begun to write a little about “Europe’s” failure to understand this issue1.  “Europe,” that’s a generalization just to open the question in places like zspace, which is international.  Of course, there are surely many supporters of my view in Europe, just as there many supporters of my view in the US and in LDCs.2

 

Ok, previews.  First, your view is that the low prices and oversupply (ie. of 2003, or of 1981-2006), cause a lot of problems. The main policy cause of the problems, in your view, is the presence of farm commodity subsidies. Get rid of them and we’ll have freer markets and it will fix things.

 

My view is that the same problems are real but that subsidies do not cause them.  Therefore, merely getting rid of subsidies does virtually nothing.  As policy, it’s a position favoring a continuation of almost all of the problems, and creating new ones. That is, you’re clearly advocating the side of corporate agribusiness, and you clearly don’t know that you are.

 

The policy cause is a lack of price floors and supply management on the bottom side of prices, (which was the main issue in the 20th century) and a lack of price ceilings and reserve supplies on the top side (for occasional price spikes or higher prices).

 

Ok, here’s my rebuttal of “the editorial that launched kickAAS,” “Kicking the subsidies.”  I use simple numbering of the 5 paragraphs.

 

1. (Paragraph # 1) Developing countries are “sold down the river,” true, but not for the kinds of reasons you claim below.

 

2. I can’t speak for Europe, but there were no farm commodity subsidies for farmers after the second world war in the US.3  (This myth is widespread here.27) Our actual (non subsidy) programs (explained above) have not grown. They were reduced 1953-1995 then ended in 1996. (Find data on the reduction in price floors and supply management in US farm programs here.4) “But” yes, the “nightmare” has grown. Your 3rd sentence here is true, but not for the reasons you claim.   Yes, Europe and the US are to blame. Ok, let’s not call people in Brazil and Zambia who farm on substandard wages “efficient.”  They’re exploited. Additionally, sugar is probably the best commodity program in the US for foreign farmers, as sugar still has price floors and higher prices.5  Price floors for sugar beets are not subsidies.  They don’t cost the government, and they don’t drive down prices. 

 

Ok, there’s a further point here, another anomaly and a matter of logic. In paragraph 3 you criticize the US cotton program for causing low prices.  

 

Here in paragraph 2 you’re criticizing the European sugar program for much the same thing.  Keep in mind, however that the US sugar program has price floors and supply management.  It’s not set high enough, but it sets relatively higher market prices.  You also mention “protective tariffs.” In WTO, NAFTA and the AFTAs we have corporate protectionism instead of protection for we the people, as in forcing open countries borders for cheap farm imports, driving down their farm prices and destroying their economies (LDCs are 70% rural20).  WTO and the lack of price floors and supply management go hand in hand to provide massive “implicit subsidies” for corporate exporters and other buyers world wide.  These below cost gains are bigger than the on-the-books subsidies, which we see in the US Farm Subsidy Database, and the European Farmsubsidy.org data, to which you link.6  Any program for fair(er) market prices (ie. the US sugar program) must prevent the dumping of cheap commodities, the undercutting of the fair(er) prices.  Allowing them to be dumped into the US or Europe would destroy the needed price floors and supply management.  That would then lower world market prices and hurt LDC farmers.  What’s also needed is fair international supply management, (as has also been called for by Africa recently, and by Europe in the past).7  Fair international Supply Management makes these programs better for Europe and the US, in part because they’re easier to win politically.

 

Ok, yes, subsidies are ludicrous, and as above (re. after world war II,) and below, I’m clearly much stronger on this point than you. Subsidies were never “a brilliant idea,” as you state. No commodity subsidies were ever really needed, (except to compensate farmers worldwide for the antibusiness, (ie. below cost) exports of the dominant players). Subsidies, however, are not the cause of low prices and the associated problems.  

 

Ok, East Anglia, I see is in England, the Paris Basin, in France. I have limited knowledge of the European CAP, but I know it has huge subsidies.  However, Oxfam usually gets the subsidy issue wrong for the US.8 (Send me your Oxfam reference and I can give a more detailed answer.)  Yes, US (and I’m sure European) farm policies and programs cause the problem you identify, oversupply and low prices. But the US sugar program5 is at least hugely better than other programs (corn, rice, cotton, soybeans, wheat) affecting Africa, Asia, South America and other areas. 

 

More to the point, subsidies do NOT cause overproduction and low prices, as I prove 4 ways.9 The low prices are caused economically by price inelasticity for groups of commodities, the lack of price responsiveness on both supply and demand sides.15 So we know that this is an economic fact.  Additionally we know  from history that prices rose as price floors and supply management were implemented, and they fell as price floors were lowered. We know that this was not because of subsidies.  Prior to the rises there were no subsidies. For much of the drop, there were also no commodity subsidies, so there there aren’t even correlations, the correlation between subsidy increases and price drops is zero, ie. for rice from 1953 until 1977.9 We also know this from the experience of other countries in cutting subsidies.  As Daryll Ray pointed out in Rethinking U.S. Agricultural Policy, the supply did not go down with subsidy elimination for Mexico, Australia and Canada.9  Oversupply problems remained to drive down prices. 

 

The policy cause is the lack of price floors (ie. by the price leaders like the US) and supply management on the bottom side, and for price spikes on the top side, the lack of reserve supplies with price ceilings to trigger their release.13  We also know this from econometric studies.  See Daryll Ray’s Rethinking document, and examples from five major studies cited by Timothy Wise of Tufts University.9, 22

 

Now consider this point as it relates to the way corporate agribusiness has fought to be massively, (if implicitly,) subsidized by below cost gains (secretly off the books; they’re not in the US farm subsidy database, and their below cost gains are not in the European subsidy pools either,) with the blame deflected onto farmers, (right where it’s put at kickAAS).  For example, 200 corporations in the Committee for Economic Development (CED) called for the lowering of price floors to cause concentration in agriculture, to eliminate US farmers, (“excess resources,”) one third within five years.21 (And since we’re the price leaders,10 this eliminated farmers world wide.)  The corporations did not call for corn subsidies. That would have been contrary to their intentions.  They have, nevertheless, been well served by the subsidy smokescreen, with farmers as scapegoats for the massive hidden benefits they won.

 

By pretending that agricultural free markets have price responsiveness, the blame then can also go to the markets themselves, not to government policy, or as has usually been the case, to any government interference in the free market.  Thus, with the false paradigm, the blame can be deflected (by those that dominate government,) onto the weak ones (farmers), who are then falsely claimed to be dominating government, (as the real beneficiaries escape blame and notice). We then see, as at your site, the victims are blamed, while the exploiters remain hidden. “Solutions” are proposed, your “one way,” “simple and effective,” that do nothing to reverse the changes the corporate complex won for itself.  That the changes were enacted for them, that they’re the primary beneficiaries, is not mentioned.

 

3. Ok, “the US is no better,” yes. Yes, cotton subsidies are huge.  Yes, they’re tremendously unfair. But again no, they are not what causes low prices and oversupply on world markets, hurting West Africa.  Numerous econometric studies support me on this,22 as well as historical data,9.  Ok, you’re writing an op-ed, no footnotes. What is your IMF source?  (I’m guessing that you and The Guardian are not generally fans of the IMF as an adequate advocate for the world’s poor, an anomaly.) Ok, West Africa can profit at 2/3 of US production costs?  How many dollars per day of labor costs are you figuring into their cost of production?  $4?  $10? $20? Do they have indoor plumbing? You can’t make your claim stick without that number.  If they can produce it at lower costs, great, but first we must set for them a fair trade, living wage standard.

 

Ok, did you notice this other anomaly in your paradigm?  You argue that “the US … has 40% of world exports” of cotton.  Wow!  That’s like the Middle East in oil at the time they started raising oil prices back in the 1970s or 80s!  Now do you see the anomaly?  OPEC raised oil prices because they had market clout.  The US lowered market prices, because they had the same market clout?  Do you know the answer to that? I do not think it is explained in your paradigm.  I explained it above.  What the corporations asked for was for the US to lose money on farm exports.  

 

We’ve had about the same market share for wheat. And we’ve had much higher market shares for corn and soybeans!23  And we’ve been market leader in rice. (footnote 10) Is OPEC bad at business, soft, noncompetitive, for not trying to lose money per barrel?  So here again, you claim to think this is insane policy, but your paradigm (which is quite mainstream) misses some of it’s greatest insanities. 

 

  4. I don’t know what your “last week’s alleged breakthrough” at WTO (2003) refered to, but I don’t recall any case where it would be a good thing. Ok, capping “direct payments” at 5% “sounds good?”  Again, you’re weaker than me on the issue. 

 

First understand that US Direct Payments are said by WTO free traders to probably not “distort trade,” as they’re based upon historical figures and are not “countercyclical.”  You get them whether you need them or not, so they supposedly don’t influence decisions so much, is the reasoning. (Under the market conditions we had 1981-2006, they were “needed” every year except 1996, for the sum of corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, and rice. [footnote 11]) They’re WTO Green Box. 

 

The other US commodity subsidies, as of the time of your article, Countercyclical and Loan Deficiency Payments (and Marketing Gains, which are like LDP) were countercyclical, or only given when needed. Direct payments were started in 1996. The 1996 US farm bill failed almost immediately, and we passed 4 emergency farm bills, 1998-2001.  That added CounterCyclical Payments.  I think LDP was an option in the 1996 bill, and was put into action by administrative decision early on. Prior to 1996 we had “Deficiency Payments” (1973-1995) or “Price Support Payments,” (1961 corn, feedgrains, wheat, 1964 cotton, until 1973) which were only given when needed.  So these other subsidies were Amber Box, WTO bad.  The US fought to get countercyclical payments, based upon historical production, into the Blue Box at WTO.24

 

Ok, so that’s how they talk about it. WTO neoliberal free traders are, however, wrong on these issues. It’s ideology based, not fact based. Countries can protest subsidies at WTO, but if they win and get rid of subsidies, it still doesn’t do anything to put a floor under market prices, or manage supply, nothing beyond a few “bread crumbs,” as I show in my 4 proofs.9 We see, then, that your subsidy paradigm is essentially the neoliberal, free trade WTO paradigm.  That’s another way you’re weak on these issues. The same is true for hunger organizations like Oxfam and Bread for the World, for mainline churches  here, for the Environmental Working Group and the European Farmsubsidy.org, and for most of the food movement in the US.) That’s another anomaly in your paradigm. (I’m imagining that you’re views are consistent, in general, with the Guardian, which I’ve heard is not neoliberal, thus this would be an anomaly for you. Correct me if I’m wrong.)

 

Ok, I’m saying that the US and Europe at WTO are not to be trusted, so we have agreement there. On export credits and food aid, I think we agree.  Food aid should be purchased from LDC farmers at fair trade, living wage prices, not dumped upon them at corporate dumping prices, destroying their markets.

 

5. To simply end all agricultural subsidies (your way) does not “deal with” this at all, from an economic standpoint, because it does not raise prices or reduce supply (and on the top side, it does not keep prices down because there are no reserve supplies or price ceilings). My way of ending cheap grain may not be the only way, but it is about the only way here that has a major historical success record.

 

We could say that, your way, in a strict kind of justice, would have US and EU farmers begin to suffer equitably, like LDC farmers, (again, assuming market conditions we usually had in the 20th century12). We choose to lose money on farm exports, causing the suffering, but but we cover much or most of it up at home.  Our our farmers, therefore, do NOT also live on a few dollars per day.  That’s unfair.

 

Of course, if you can’t hurt the biggest farm exploiters in the world, you can always attack the US partial victims and, long term, turn then into the same kinds of victims as we find in LDCs, as part of the general lowering of wages here.  That would, in fact lower wages here, as more farmers came to the city to look for jobs (which has always been part of CED’s goals, and as they had less money to spend, as rural areas went deeper into decline, into “ghettoization,” or “Latin Americanization.” That then would effect politcs here. Would all of that be consistent with your values?  It’s consistent with CED’s* values.  

 

Ok, politically I hypothesize that this huge failure of your proposals to help LDC farmers, etc., would get huge attention in Europe and the US. It could drive people toward my proposals, or merely away from your proposals. It could drive US and European farmers toward greater support for agribusiness exploitation of LDCs, ([instead of toward my position,] as criticism of your proposals dominated the media and my paradigm remained unknown.)

 

You are correct that your paradigm unites much of the right and left.  In fact, yours is a neoliberal, free trade, free market paradigm, and much of the left has joined on. So why does the left want that? Your viewpoint, in it’s libertarian extreme, is becoming mainstream, with help from your site and many, many others. 

 

Note here your argument about countries being “able to grow crops they are good at.”  That’s a basic neoliberal and libertarian argument, (another anomaly?). It does not take into account some main arguments against WTO’s neoliberalism, such as the basic concept of food sovereignty.  Food is needed for survival.  Every country needs food security (and they know that).25 Food cannot be treated as a mere commodity.  

 

My paradigm also unites the right and left, except for libertarians, when they are ideologically based and not factually based. It reduces government payouts more than most subsidy reforms (eliminating all commodity subsidies).

 

The only ones to gain in your paradigm are giant agribusiness corporations:  1. Especially the output complex (exporters, food and feed mills, grocery giants, ethanol and other processors,) that buys the cheap commodities at below cost.  Cargill and ADM, for example, would continue to each get multibillion dollar gains annually.2  Also gaining woutld be the input complex selling to farmers. They gain from planting fence-row-to-fence-row instead of using supply management (reduction as needed).  Cheap grain out competes sustainable grazing.  Item 3 (below in this paragraph) means less hay and forage in crop rotations, so more purchased inputs are needed (no nitrogen, free from alfalfa and clover, more mono cropping and therefore more weed, insect, fungus etc. problems so more pesticides).   3. The CAFO (animal factory & feedlot) complex, gets multiyear multibillion dollar gains for individual corporations, thus taking the value added of livestock away from farmers world wide.  An exception to this is that farmers would subsidize consumers by an even greater degree than they did 1981-2006.  The farm share of food was projected to drop to zero by 2020.26  That was a long trend line.  It’s based upon statistically removing the Monsanto, pharmaceutical, John Deere from the farm share (as is shown in USDA’s method) to accurately show just how small the “farm share” has always been. Of course, we’ve had an upward trend for some commodities.  If you drink milk here, dairy farmers subsidize every drop.  They’re share is already below zero.

 

In contrast, in my paradigm, dilemmas really are reconciled fairly well, and almost everyone gains.  It’s not utopia.  We still need help from other titles of our farm bill (research, competition, conservation).  My paradigm reverses the bad impacts in the previous paragraph where cheap grain out competes grazing, etc., and also the problems of all of the recent food exposes and CAFO exposes.  

 

Ok, there are some losers.  Some very profitable corporations will object. This is a direct assault on the massive concentration of wealth of corporate agribusiness (to make “the level playing field on which to compete”).  This isn’t a matter of picking on farmers and falsely accusing them of having huge war chests of money (as in the case of the agribusiness complexes that benefit from your policies).  This fights directly against corporate power, calling on government to end the exploitation, to level the playing field, to take a huge chunk of their power (their wealth,) and give it back to us, the world’s farmers.  (It is not at all a call to bash farmers while keeping the corporate complex’s enormous, totally unneeded, government protected implicit subsidies hidden, as in your op-ed.)

 

By the way, you don’t even mention these real beneficiaries, corporate agribusiness.  You fell for their smokescreen, their subsidy “scapegoat.” You’re advocating for them, in the name of justice, in the name of the LDC farmers who have been so severely devastated by their practices.  You blame their primary US and European victims. Meanwhile they remain hidden.  Wow, that’s another huge anomaly for your paradigm!

 

These problems, misunderstood for decades, (watch me online making this argument 25 years ago,14 have caused enormous structural damage to agriculture in the US and worldwide. In truth, however, we (the family farm movement in the US) have been fighting this for decades, ever since they started lowering price floors in the 1950s.  That’s when the US National Farmers Organization was formed.  They were the leaders for a while, but didn’t get the attention of progressives and the media.  Later Jim Hightower’s Agribusiness Accountability Project presented a new model for appeal to progressives and the media.  This model influenced groups of the 1980s farm crisis.  Still, however, as you can infer from my video14, we weren’t adequately heard.  

 

You and most others have joined the issue much much later, long after all price floors, supply management and reserves have ended.  You share our values, but you too misunderstand the issue.  I think there are a number of reasons why this is so. First, to think low prices are NOT caused by subsidies is counter intuitive.  The facts are fairly simple, but not as simple as the subsidy myth. 

 

Second, most of the good work on this by NGOs was pre internet and is not online.  I have a significant collection of these materials [from the 1980s & 1990s,] and I’ve worked hard to connect people online with what historical information I can find. See my “Some history” content box at my “Farm Bill Primer,”2 and my historical videos13. 

 

Third, much of the food movement here is led by young people who are not old enough to remember the 1990s, let alone the 1980s farm and food crisis.  Staff changes have left that knowledge behind, as I’ve seen in a variety of organizations.

 

Fourth, the needed policies were ended after the 1990 farm bill, (after 1995,) so more recent reports on the US farm bill make comparisons with the 1996, 2002, and now 2008 farm bills.  Since they have had no price floors, supply management and reserves for the main commodities (except sugar), these policies are seldom mentioned in writing about future farm bills (in advance of the 2008 farm bill). We see this now, in work on the 2012 farm bill. It is very easy, in this context, for myths that there were US subsidies during the 1930s or “after the second world war.”  As I’ve said, such myths are widespread in the US.27

 

Note, however, that the need for these policies did not change.  This is repeatedly emphasized by Daryll Ray at APAC.15 Bottom side needs were severe 1996-2006.  We’ve had some top side needs since then.  

 

Fifth, apparently European countries have not been the price leaders, setting world prices, like we often do here from the US.  Historically European countries were small and separate.  That then may have contributed to Europe’s differing farm policies, different than what I propose here (the New Deal farm programs started by Henry Wallace during the Great Depression, and more recently proposed as the Harkin-Gephardt farm bill and the Food from Family Farms Act).

 

Sixth, there is a huge volume of information, like your site, to spread the subsidy myth.  Meanwhile no one has ever seen a price floor. (But see my video.19)

 

Ok, so you have asked:  “Is Anyone Out There Listening?”16 You show confidence that you are listening, buy I show that you too have not heard.  You too take the mainstream view, you too support failed neoliberal policies and programs.  In general, on farm subsidies, your view dominates the mass media here, as seen in 477 mainstream media articles collected by the Environmental Working Group.17  This is Michael Pollan’s main one-liner.  We seen his videos on YouTube generating, at times, more than one million views (vs. my 92).18  Consider how I feel in my petition to Michael Pollan, (which has, on one hand, trickled out to more than half of the states in the US and into half a dozen foreign countries).19 It’s a mere drop in the bucket compared, even, to your media web site. 

 

Thank you for your time.  I’ve started compiling the various responses and non responses I get from emails like this one to you.  Paradigm change is tough, even for scientists operating out of a paradigm of peer review! 

 

I welcome any response, criticism, feedback, rebuttal, and/or dialogue that you can muster up.

 

Brad Wilson

Fireweed Farm

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

National Family Farm Coalition (USA)

La Via Campesina (International)

 

Footnotes.

 

1. http://www.zcomm.org/europe-misunderstands-farm-subsidies-by-brad-wilson; cf. my rebuttal to Ed Pilkington on Ethanol, http://www.zcomm.org/uk-guardian-misunderstands-ethanol-by-brad-wilson. I’ve also written a four page response to the OneWorld Guides series of OneWorld UK. 

 

2. See my zspace blog, “Via Campesina with NFFC: Support for Fair Farm Prices,” http://www.zcomm.org/via-campesina-with-nffc-support-for-fair-farm-prices-by-brad-wilson; and my “Farm Bill Primer,” content box: “World Support,” which includes  a link called “European Community: EC Plan for Minimum Price & Supply Management (IATP), http://www.zcomm.org/impact-of-gatt-on-world-hunger-by-mark-ritchie.  IATP can tell you how to find the key European supporters of the views I’m presenting.

 

3. Brad Wilson, YouTube: FireweedFarm channel, “Michael Pollan Rebuttal 1,” 05:59 to 07:28, http://www.youtube.com/user/FireweedFarm#p/c/A1E706EFA90D1767/4/mkEhW-tg9Q0; original source: USDA-ERS:  (scroll & select .xls download) "Government Payments: United States by Program, 1933-2009  http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/farmincome/FinfidmuXls.htm

 

4. Brad Wilson, YouTube: FireweedFarm channel, “Michael Pollan Rebuttal 2,” 01:04 [ie. starting about 1 minute and 4 seconds into the video] to 02:10 and 06:58 to 07:14; original data: USDA:ERS:  Program Provision for Program crops:  A Database for 1961-90, http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ages9010/, and for more recent data, USDA-NASS:  Agricultural Statistics Annual, http://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Ag_Statistics/, older data is the same source, but not online.

 

5. R. Dennis Olson, “Sweet or Sour: The U.S. Sugar Program and the Threats Posed  by the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,” April 2005, http://www.iatp.org/iatp/publications.cfm?accountID=451&refID=72784

 

6. July 19, 2009, “The corporations that farm money,” http://kickaas.typepad.com/kickaas/2009/07/the-corporations-that-farm-money.html links to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/5852319/EU-farm-subsidies-paid-to-big-business.html. On the large size of the below cost gains, see the multibillion dollar implicit subsidies for Tyson and Smithfield, Timothy A. Wise and Elanor Starmer, “Industrial Livestock Companies’ Gains from Low Feed Prices, 1997-2005,” Tufts University, Global Development and Environment Institute,  http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/rp/CompanyFeedSvgsFeb07.pdf.  That’s bigger than anything in the farm subsidy database.  7 out of 8 of these hog and poultry corporations benefits much more even than the largest cooperatives, (representing many farmer members of various sizes,) in EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database, and that’s over a smaller number of years.  I estimate Cargill and ADM easily get multibillions annually in the implicit subsidies. For example, I find that Cargill, (also on Tuft’s list,) has often benefited by a half billion dollars per year just on corn exports from the US, not mentioning all of their processing operations for corn, and all of the other commodities, where they benefit, worldwide, since the US is often the price leader.  Of course, these radically larger policy-caused benefits are all invisible in your paradigm.

 

 

7. “European Community: EC Plan for Minimum Price & Supply Management (IATP), http://www.zcomm.org/impact-of-gatt-on-world-hunger-by-mark-ritchie; Carin Smaller & Sophia Murphy, “On the Right Path to Development:  African Countries Pave the Way,”  IATP commentary, June 16, 2006, http://www.tradeobservatory.org/library.cfm?refid=88129.

 

8. My main arguments to you also apply to Oxfam.  See “Farm Bill 101,” http://es.oxfamamerica.org/files/OA_Farm%20Bill%20101.pdf; “Fairness in the Fields,” http://www.oxfamamerica.org/publications/fairness-in-the-fields/?searchterm=None.  They say nothing about price floors, supply management, price ceilings, or reserve supplies.

 

9. This is the heart of the matter in my criticism of your work. Brad Wilson, YouTube: FireweedFarm channel, “Michael Pollan Rebuttal 1: Four Proofs Against Pollan's Corn "Subsidy" Argument,” http://www.youtube.com/user/FireweedFarm?feature=mhum#p/c/A1E706EFA90D1767/4/mkEhW-tg9Q0, (& part 2)http://www.youtube.com/user/FireweedFarm?feature=mhum#p/c/A1E706EFA90D1767/5/feTeT45iWnc; See more sources and links in the videos; including especially:  Daryll E. Ray, “Rethinking US Agricultural Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide,”  University of Tennessee, APAC, 2003, http://www.agpolicy.org/blueprint.html; see a brief summary of my 4 proofs at: http://www.zcomm.org/michael-pollan-rebuttal-four-proofs-against-pollans-corn-subsidy-argument-by-brad-wilson; cf. Brad Wilson, YouTube: FireweedFarm channel, “Michael Pollan Rebuttal 2: Four Proofs Against Pollan's Corn "Subsidy" Argument,” http://www.youtube.com/user/FireweedFarm#p/c/A1E706EFA90D1767/5/feTeT45iWnc. 

 

10. On US market shares and US’s role as price leader, see Ray, op cit., “Rethinking US Agricultural Policy, http://www.agpolicy.org/blueprint.html; cf. Daryll Ray, “The United States as the Residual Supplier of Crops,” http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/053.html; and see charts in his presentations, ie. chart 16 in http://agpolicy.org/blueprint/PresentationAPACReport.pdf, “US and Argentine prices move together,” with Argentina staying just below US prices, high or low.

 

11. First, no Farm Commodity Subsidies of any kind have ever been truly needed. When our (US or UK) policy is to lose money on exports, or rather when the price leader for a commodity (often the US) chooses to lose money on exports rather than make a profit, (which is antibusiness, and very bad policy, as it damages a variety of social values), then they are “needed” by all farmers world wide.  Ok, assuming the bad, zero price floor etc. policies, then you have Direct Payments which are given whether needed or not.  They’re falsely considered good in WTO ideology. They’re considered non-trade-distorting, and yes, but all subsidies are really non-trade-distorting, as they have only tiny impacts on price and supply).  Ok, we’ve recently had higher farm commodity prices (above zero vs full costs [USDA-ERS], and Direct Payments are still given.    Now to my point: for a sum of corn, wheat, cotton, rice, soybeans, barley, sorghum grain, and oats (net per acre excluding subsidies vs full costs: multiplied by acres for each), then the total was below zero every year, 1981-2006, except 1996 (net data at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/CostsAndReturns/testpick.htm; acreage data at: . That’s a total of hundreds of billions of dollars below zero, and a much higher figure for the amount they are below fair trade, living wage farm prices.  When ERS studied commodity costs and returns WITH subsidies added in, for corn, cotton, rice, barley and sorghum (for about 5 years each,) each still netted below zero overall, and well below fair trade, living wage prices. 

 

12. Free market assumptions that, prices will self correct (without price floors and supply management  on the bottom and reserve supplies and price ceilings on the top side of price,) were correct only three brief times during the 20th century:  Daryll E. Ray, “Policy Premise correct three times a century,” APAC “Policy Pennings,” 9/23/05, http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/268.html; cf. Daryll E. Ray, “Agricultural Policy for the Twenty-First Century and the Legacy of the Wallaces, APAC, 3/3/04, http://agpolicy.org/pubs/RayLecture2004FromGretchen1st.pdf (& see accompanying ppt presentation, http://agpolicy.org/present/2004/PesekISUMar32004.pdf. 

 

13. Price floors and supply management on the bottom side of price, reserve supplies and price ceilings on top.  See the Food from Family Farms Act, (Commodity Title,) http://www.nffc.net/Learn/Fact%20Sheets/FFFA2007.pdf; Cf. Daryll E. Ray, “Rethinking US Agricultural Policy,” APAC, 2003, http://www.agpolicy.org/blueprint.html, pp 43-49. More at my “Farm Bill Primer,” http://www.zcomm.org/zspace/bradwilson. See videos at YouTube, FireweedFarm channel, “Farm Bill & Food Bill:”  ie. “NFFC Farm Bill 3, Food from Family Farms Act,” http://www.youtube.com/user/FireweedFarm?feature=mhum#p/c/A1E706EFA90D1767/3/fvmwGmQqt80.

 

14. “Food Movement 1985:  Were You There? We Were,” YouTube, FireweedFarm channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/FireweedFarm?feature=mhum#p/c/A1E706EFA90D1767/0/O2UY2jXvYfM, excepts from the Donahue Show, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1985.

 

15. Brad Wilson, “Michael Pollan Rebuttal 1,” 03:10 to 04:00 I read a summary form The Development of American Agriculture: A Historical Analysis, by Willard W. Cochrane, (first edition) p. 371, find more data there; Daryll Ray, APAC, “Policy Pennings,” (columns): Are we Prescribing Policy without Knowing the Disease? http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/037.html; “Farm Policy Debaters Need to Identify Source of Price and Income Problems in Crop Agriculture before Proposing Solutions,” 

http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/038.html; “Are the five oft-cited reasons for farm programs actually symptoms of a more basic reason,” http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/325.html; “Farm and non-farm industries react differently to price changes,” http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/164.html; “WTO panel identifies problem, but will their implied solution work?” http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/284.html; “It's Price Responsiveness! It's Price Responsiveness!! IT'S PRICE RESPONSIVENESS!!!,” http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/248.html;” I mention “groups of commodities, so see: “Total acreages' response to price is the "REAL" supply response issue,” http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/119.html.

 

16. Is anyone out there listening? (Victor Keegan?) Kick AAS, http://kickaas.typepad.com/kickaas/2009/11/is-anyone-out-there-listening.html.

 

17. “All Over The Map, 477 Editorials Call For Farm Bill Reform,” Environmental Working Group, February 2008, http://www.ewg.org/farmeditorials; “352 Editorials Call for Farm Bill Reform,” Environmental Working Group, 2/11/08, http://www.commondreams.org/news2008/0211-10.htm

 

18. I show this at the beginning of my video, “Michael Pollan Rebuttal 1,” op cit.

 

19. Brad Wilson, “Michael Pollan, Lead the Food Movement to Corn Price Floors,” http://www.change.org/petitions/view/michael_pollan_lead_the_food_movement_to_corn_price_floors

 

20. UN ESA, “World Uranization Prostpects: The 2007 Revision Population Database:  “Percentage Rural” AND “Least Developed Countries,” http://esa.un.org/unup/index.asp

 

21. CED, “An Adaptive Program for Agriculture,” pp. 25, 40, 42-3, 48, 59, 64; online see “Farm Bill 1, Agribusines Against Fair Prices,” YouTube, FireweedFarm channel, “Farm Bill & Food Bill,” playlist, http://www.youtube.com/user/FireweedFarm#p/c/A1E706EFA90D1767/6/zfgZqgfkxXk, beginning at 05:02, from “America’s Stake in the 1985 Farm Bill,” League of Rural Voters; Mark Ritchie & Kevin Ristau, Crisis by Design: A Brief Review of U.S. Farm Policy, League of Rural Voters, 1987, pp. 4-5, http://www.iatp.org/iatp/publications.cfm?accountID=258&refID=48644.

 

22. For example, see Timothy Wise, “The paradox of Agricultural Subsidies,” Tufts University, GDAE, May 2004, chart on p. 21 with examples from five major econometric studies, http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/04-02AgSubsidies.pdf. Cf. “Errors in methodology can affect policy conclusions,” Daryll E. Ray, APAC, 12/16/05, http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/280.html.

 

23. “Stock-To-Usage Ratios,” compiled by Food First, Table 1b, “U.S. Global Market Share, Six-Year Averages,” source: FAOSTAT data 2005, online at  http://www.foodfirst.org/backgrounders/subsidies/stock_usage.

 

24.  Sophia Murphy, “The U.S. WTO Agriculture Proposal of October 10, 2005,” 10/25/05, http://www.iatp.org/iatp/publications.cfm?accountID=451&refID=77195 and Sophia Murphy and Steve Suppan, “The New Blue Box: A Step Back for Fair Trade”11/17/05, http://www.iatp.org/iatp/publications.cfm?accountID=451&refID=77566:  both are Excerpted from: Sailing Close to the Wind: Navigating the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial

 

25. “China remembers famine: Food security is a high priority,” 5/10/05, http://www.agpolicy.org/weekcol/250.html; “Is food too important to be left to WTO?” 11/29/02, http://www.agpolicy.org/weekcol/121.html; “Farm and non-farm industries react differently to price changes,” 9/26/03, http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/164.html; “Food is matter of national security for all,” 9/19/03, http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/163.html; “Sustainable Agriculture Versus Unregulated Financial Markets: Understanding the Food Crisis,” IATP, 10/08, Mark Muller, http://www.tradeobservatory.org/library.cfm?refID=104287.

 

26. Steward Smith, I have his yearly data, 1910-1997.  See Stewart Smith, “Sustainable agriculture and public policy,” Maine Policy Review (1993), Volume 2, Number 1, p. 2, http://mcspolicycenter.umaine.edu/files/pdf_mpr/SmithS_V2N1.pdf.

 

27. Bread for the World:  "Hunger 2007:  Healthy Food, Farms and Families:" (no longer online, fortunately, except to order), p. 13, lst paragraph, https://secure3.convio.net/bread/site/Ecommerce/1072855759?VIEW_PRODUCT=true&product_id=1191&store_id=1101; OXFAM:  "Fairness in the Fields:  A Vision for the 2007 Farm Bill:" p. 14 (print version), first sentence, http://www.oxfamamerica.org/publications/fairness-in-the-fields.

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