Sunday, November 1, 2015

Agricultural Welfare

Next time you hear somebody speaking about the fierce independence of the American farmer or the power of the free market, you might bring up some of the headlines today on the Des Moines Register agriculture news page:
World's largest cellulosic ethanol plant opens - Steve King (?!) talking about the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (ethanol mandate).

USDA budgets $5.6 billion to attract new farmers, ranchers - Because market prices, lending policies and demand definitely aren't

Ethanol from corncobs: A cure for climate change? - No, but a very concentrated use of subsidies and regulatory special treatment.  It is funny to see folks who usually want the government to stay out of private enterprise talk about how bad it would be for EPA regulations to be rolled back.

Washington promises to restore crop insurance cuts - Because actuaries would never sign off on such open-ended risk and farmers would never pay the necessary premiums to make this a free-market program.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to government intervention in the economy.  I just get sick of seeing people who claim to be for free markets and reduced government spending for others defend subsidies and regulations that benefit them.  Personally, I think that cellulosic ethanol is a pipe dream without massive subsidies and mandates, and that corn ethanol is a boondoggle which has been a major contributor to a massive agricultural land bubble that will soon deflate with significant pain for farmers and rural Americans, and is also a net negative for the environment.  Finally, I think it is a major mistake for farmers to routinely elect politicians dumb enough to believe the free market fixes all, and ready to slash programs that go directly to their constituents, all so that the extremely rich can pay less in taxes.  

No comments:

Post a Comment