America’s farmers are having a serious problem maintaining solvency. And have been teetering on that brink for decades. Remember Farm Aid? This was a charity project launched with a concert by the likes of Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp (professionally ne Cougar) and Canada’s Neil Young, to assist America’s struggling farmers – in 1985. Thirty-plus years later – Farm Aid is still going.
Because the American farmer’s problem is still ongoing. We have watched globalism gut our nation’s manufacturing. Our food manufacturing has suffered similar devastation. Farmers are victimized by the same terrible global government conditions and awful trade deals that have been undercutting our factories and mills.
The Next American Farm Bust Is Upon Us: “The Farm Belt is hurtling toward a milestone: Soon there will be fewer than two million farms in America for the first time since pioneers moved westward after the Louisiana Purchase.”
Let us pause here to note the trajectory of our Department of Agriculture spending – as our nation’s agriculture sector shrank: “The department will spend $154 billion in 2016, or $1,230 for every U.S. household. After adjusting for inflation, spending has increased 45 percent since 2000.”
That is at once ridiculous – and telling. The private agriculture sector has imploded – yet the government agriculture department has, bizarrely, grown exponentially. How very DC.
And therein lies the problem. Not just here – but all around the globalized world. We are allegedly engaged in international “free trade” – but the reality is anything but free. It is an omni-directional, multi-governments nightmare mess of mandates, tariffs and subsidies.
For instance, Brazil: “Brazil’s (government) farm budget for the upcoming 2015/16 crop year will be 20% bigger than last year’s… (to) BRL187.7 billion (US Dollars $59 billion).”
Get that? The U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is roughly $18 trillion – Brazil’s is $1.8 trillion. And Brazil’s farm subsidy budget – all by itself – is about 40% of our entire bloated Ag Department budget.
And yet Brazil has audacity enough for this: Brazil Takes Aim at U.S. Farm Subsidies.
Then there’s China: “Gordon Chang…author of the tome “The Coming Collapse of China”…was on CNBC on March 10, 2016 – stating the very obvious: “‘People say [President Donald Trump] would start a trade war. Well, no matter what The Donald does he can’t start a trade war because we’re already in a trade war with China. But only they are waging it,’ Chang told CNBC. ‘The question is how do we end it on terms not only advantageous to the United States but also to the international community.’”
Chang says China’s clinging to its big government ways – are leading to a crash of its very own: “Beijing’s cautious reforms have left the country stuck midway between communism and capitalism…which will shake the country to its foundations. Economic failure will be followed by government collapse.”
Similar to the one our farmers face.
Think all of that government nonsense won’t warp the global market? Think all of that represents actually free trade?
Our farmers are taking hits – on all fronts: “Across the heartland, a multiyear slump in prices for corn, wheat and other farm commodities brought on by a glut of grain world-wide is pushing many farmers further into debt.”
And why is there a crop glut? Because nations all over the world are subsidizing the daylight out of crops. Government pays someone to do X – and people will line up for miles to do X. Common Core has teachers teaching to the test – government has farmers growing to the subsidies.
And our subsidies are but a tiny fraction of other nations’ – so we are getting crushed: “The U.S. share of the global grain market is less than half what it was in the 1970s. American farmers’ incomes will drop 9% in 2017….”
So getting rid of our minuscule subsidies – unilaterally disarming in Chang’s global trade war – would score some tiny ideological purity points. While doing huge damage to our farm sector.
Instead, how about a fully-formed Mr Potato Head free market solution? Mr Potato Head is the children’s toy where you can remove each facial feature unilaterally. When your Head has a mouth, a nose…and no eyes – the resulting visage is quite bizarre. Just as bizarre as unilaterally disarming in the global trade government arms race.
What we should do – on ALL things trade – is what Florida Republican Congressman Ted Yoho wants to do with sugar: “Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., reintroduced a bill Friday that encourages the administration to target foreign sugar subsidies. Under the ‘Zero-for-Zero’ plan, U.S. sugar policy would also be rolled back in exchange for the elimination of foreign programs, which Yoho says are distorting world prices and inhibiting a free market.”
We less government types get the warping effect of government – domestically. Government’s damage doesn’t stop at our shores. Free marketeers should also acknowledge that to make better our farms, our markets and our economy, we need less government here – and everywhere else.
This first appeared in Red State. Seton Motley is the founder and president of Less Government. Please feel free to follow him on Twitter (@SetonMotley) and Facebook. It’s his kind of stalking.