Crop Subsidies Adding to Federal Deficit

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Every now and then, Uncle Sam drops 20 bucks into my checking account. No kidding. I get this little contribution from the federal treasury because I own (a patch of?) farmland in Dixon. The small and seemingly random payments are a crop subsidy. As taxpayers we'll spend almost 190 billion dollars on crop supports this decade. And not all of it goes to people we'd think of as farmers. In Butte County, a well-known stockbroker used more than a million dollars of rice subsidies to offset the cost of wetlands that make up the grounds of his duck hunting club. To be fair, real farmers argue that these subsidies are a matter of survival -- without them they couldn't afford to farm. And I know that locally, without farming, our remaining ag. land would be sold and turned into subdivisions. So, let's just talk about my 20 bucks. My payment is a small part of the federal government's "latte factor." When a family is struggling to save money to buy a house, financial consultants tell them to forgo their daily latte and make coffee at home. Those little savings add up and before they know it they've saved enough to put a down payment on a house. Right now we've got a huge federal deficit but need to pay for health care and social security increases. So, the feds can save my 20 bucks, then they can add the million dollars they give to the hunting club -- and they'll be off to a pretty good start.