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Farm subsidies

To the editor:

One has to wonder why the farmers quoted in last week’s article, “Farmers Get Relief from Low Prices,” were reluctant to reveal their names.

While this is a special subsidy to offset President Trump’s trade war with China and the damage caused to the soybean market, subsidies to farmers have been a component of U.S. agriculture for many years.

Years ago Bill Meyer, editor of the Marion County Record, would regularly publish the amounts and names of local ag subsidy recipients in the paper.

These are public records of expenditures of U.S. tax dollars; anyone asking for and receiving them should know that this is the case.

In Marion County, the top recipient from 1995 to 2019 is Klassen Farms Inc., Hillsboro, with a total of $1,367,062 in ag subsidies, which averages to $56,960 per year.

Contrast that to the current median income for Marion County households of $47,926 before taxes.

If anyone is interested in seeing all of the figures and a breakdown of the programs farmers are accessing in Marion County, you can go to this website:  https://farm.ewg.org/top_recips.php?fips=20115&progcode=totalfarm&regionname=MarionCounty,Kansas

At the end of the article, Todd Heitschmidt is quoted as saying that this will help make the farmers profitable this year, but they would probably rather get their profits from the market.

How does this square with the fundamentals of capitalism, banker Heitschmidt? Sounds to me that conventional U.S. agriculture operates on the premise that losses are socialized when the capitalist market does not produce a profit.

To add a further ironic twist, Mr. Heitschmidt has been a leader in the Marion County Republican Party, which has railed for years about the deficit spending that was selling out future generations.

The $16 billion to fund the soybean relief is coming out of the record deficit spending that the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Senate are underwriting. Where is the outrage and worry now?

As the former lead marketer and now consultant for the Central Plains Organic Farmers Association, I can share current organic commodity prices; organic feed corn is $8 per bushel, organic feed soybeans $18.50 per bushel, and organic hard red winter milling wheat (13% protein) is $14 per bushel.

Organic commodities are traded in a market place that reflects the supply and demand dynamic of capitalism without needing the hidden hand of subsidies, which was a fundamental premise of the business degree I earned in the early ’70s.

Harry E. Bennett
Madison, Wisconsin

Last modified Aug. 8, 2019

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