Farm Subsidies: Another Government Spending Problem?

According to an article from the Washington Post, the U.S. government has spent over 1.3 billion dollars on farming subsidies paid out to people who live on farm land that is not even used for farming. These people range from retired individuals to rich landowners (one example is a surgeon who has received a grand total of $490,709 just because he owns the land). The Farm Program was started approximately 12 years ago as an attempt to end the old subsidies that were costly to the government, but the new program has become even more expensive. One man tried to return the money he was given, but he was told that the money would just be distributed to other land owners. This program was an attempt to help farmers with the costs of growing crops and was intended to be aimed at rice and wheat specifically.

Interestingly enough, in another, more recent article from the New York Sun, several areas of the U.S. that were once considered the “Breadbaskets” of the world are now experiencing shortages of rice and wheat. Many stores, including Costco, have been forced to limit the amount of rice and flour bought by their customers. These food items are staples in the American diet and many people are upset about the lack of the one food item that they consider a necessity. 

Looking at these two articles, it is clear that the government needs to take a look at its policies on farm subsidies. The farm program was designed to help American farmers provide food at an affordable cost to the American people. Unfortunately, the operations of these policies are not well developed and, while the rich get richer, middle class people cannot afford to by rice and flour. It is possible that the government needs to move toward a more formalized structure for review of farmers getting the subsidies. They should gain better control of the people that are receiving the money. If a person is not actually farming, then they should not be a cog in the “farming machine” and should not be paid. If the person is farming, the government should be certain that the farmer is doing right by the American people, by providing the food needed at a reasonable cost.

One way for the government to actually accomplish this is by making reports on crop yield mandatory. With this information they could find out who is not farming at all and take away the funding (tax payers do not need to be paying rich guys to sit on their butts). This funding could then be passed on to farmers who try but still produce a low crop yield (as long as it is proved that this person is actually making an attempt at producing food). If those who are actually farming have an increase in their subsidy then they may be able to have an even higher yield. These simple changes would help to prevent the shortages described in the New York Sun Article and possibly save the government a little bit of money.

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5 Responses

  1. I think it is a great idea to think that if you require individuals to submit paperwork on their crop yield they will actually do that, in order to give money back to the American farmer who is actually trying to make it in this world by selling his crops. If only everyone would be like the man who tried to give the money back because he did not need it.

  2. It seems like such a simple solution to have farmers submit evidence of their crop yield, almost too simple. It makes me wonder what the government is thinking when they are just handing out free money. Seriously, why? Our government is too willing to help those that are potentially at risk that sometimes it seems like they overcompensate in areas where help is not needed.

  3. I agree that is a great idea…plus with the shortage in the job market, “farm inspectors” could be a new trait!! free money and a food crisis is not what we need now.

  4. It may not be as simple as it seems to gather information on who is making a ‘real effort’ to farm and who is not. The farm subsidies should be spread to cover costs of farming activities and inputs, so the people who benefit are those who are actually producing, for example subsidize rentals of farm equipment, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, etc. These can then be distributed under supervision of farm inspectors so that their is no illegal re-selling/re-distribution.

  5. Nadir… I completely agree. It would be a great cost saver for the government to look at the equipment, seeds, fertilizer, etc. instead of just who owns the land. This would help to reduce the number of people who are collecting without actually farming. What is a millionaire not interested in farming at all going to do with a random tractor that can’t be resold? This is a great solution that I hadn’t thought of while writing the post. Thank you!

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