California Farmers Benefit Little From Subsidies

The 2008 Farm Bill is full of subsidies designed by congressional Democrats to help farmers through the hard economic times. Although the subsidies have good intentions, experts believe that these subsidies are in fact doing the opposite.
According to information obtained by the Environmental Working Group, California growers who specialized in rice and cotton, or other select crops, were the only producers to benefit from the program.
Experts point out that cotton subsidies have caused a number of farmers to plant cotton even when the demand and prices are low. “The government has decided in their wisdom to encourage production of crops the market doesn’t want,” San Francisco farmers Philip Bowles told the SF Gate. “It must make political sense because it certainly doesn’t make economic sense.”
Economists believe that such actions encourage economic hardships with smaller farms allowing for larger, corporate farms to buy them out.
Most California farmers that grow fruits and vegetables did not receives direct subsidies and those who did received only 48 percent from the government. Subsidies are mainly aimed at grains, cotton, dairy and some specialty crops.
This problem is just one of the many reasons why the House Agriculture Committee is meeting with farmers to plan changes on the current Farm Bill. The committee wants farmers to shape the 2012 Farm Bill to fit the needs of small farms.
“If we can somehow write an intelligent farm bill that’s attuned to the goals of public health and environmental responsibility, we can certainly create a set of incentives that steer agriculture in a more responsible direction,” Professor James McWilliams of Texas State University said.
Hearings are going on around the country before a draft of the bill is prepared.
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