Impact of the Farm Bill on the World Farm Crisis and World Food Crisis

In a short video of me recently posted on YouTube, I briefly explain the impact of the farm bill on the world farm crisis and the world food crisis.  A link to the video is shown below.  I speak very quickly in the video.  For that reason, I’ve posted the text of the video, (slightly edited) here. I’ve also added a little text in brackets [ ] for further clarification.  References to more detailed analysis and links, supportive and critical of my views, can be found here, at my ZSpace blog,  http://www.zcomm.org/zspace/bradwilson.


The video is:


Presbyterian Farmer talks solutions



Andrew: “So what do you think needs to be done in our food system to make it a fairer and more viable system for family farmers?”


Brad:  “I’m working on the piece that deals with the price of [farm] commodities, which is the biggest issue in the farm bill.  The Commodity Title is the biggest issue in [terms of] economic impact, in economic impact world wide, because we dominate world export markets, [we] have for decades; less now. . . and we have a huge impact on those world prices, and we often are able to set world prices.  But we [U.S.] have chosen to lose money on [farm] exports in order to give a break to big corporate agribusinesses buying [grain and cotton,] for decades, according to Economic Research Service Data, as I understand it.”


Andrew: “Do those corporations you speak of influence the policies?”


Brad:  “You know, I had my hats on, [my] USDA hat on yesterday and underneath it I had my Cargill hat and my Tyson hat because Earl Butz came from Ralston-Purina and I think went back, the Secretary of Agriculture, Richard Lyng, Claton Yeuter, John Block came from a farm but he went to the grocery lobbyists or something like that afterwards.”


Andrew: “So it’s a revolving door between corporations and USDA?”


Brad:  “Yes.”


Brad:  “So we need a price floor with supply management on the bottom side, a grain reserve and a price ceiling on the top side [for each farm commodity], so that U.S. and world farmer prices [are above full ownership costs].  LDCs, “Least Developed Countries” are 70% rural, a rural economy dependent upon farm income, and if farm prices are low then they’re not going to have much for economic multipliers and jobs multipliers and they’re going to have poverty.  So they had that for a quarter century here, and so therefore they’ve had all of that poverty, [not that there aren’t also other very important factors involved] without any subsidies, they couldn’t afford the subsidies to compensate [for the massive losses].”


Andrew: “And development aid …the U.S. doesn’t  make up for that loss?”


Brad:  “No”


Andrew:  “Not even close?”  


Brad:  “No, the numbers are big [ie. the hundreds of billions of dollars below the full ownership net returns per acre of major U.S. and world commodities multiplied by U.S. or World production in acres].  US numbers for (corn, wheat, cotton, rice, soybeans,grain sorghum, barley, and oats,) were below zero 1981-2006, and again today; and also below living wage/fair trade price standards increasingly over 54 years, 1953-2009, with a some exceptions, depending upon the standard used].”


[“Also,” I should have added and emphasized, “during times of a price spike like we had in 1973 and 2008, if farm prices go too high, we need the price ceilings and grain reserves that I mentioned earlier.  If there are price spikes above the price ceiling, reserve supplies are soon placed on the market to bring prices back down to the ‘fair-trade/living-wage,’ or ‘minimum wage’ or ‘break-even-at-zero’ farm price standard.  (Standards were gradually lowered from 100% parity, a fair-trade/living-wage standard, in 1952, to below zero, before being totally removed in 1996.) And note that if LDC farm economies are healthy and strong long term, then fair trade prices will strongly help, not hurt, people there, (under conditions of adequate antitrust protection, fair trade regulation, etc.)”]

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