The Farm Bill

Zinnfan sends a link to an article from Time with in-depth coverage of the machinations leading up to the current farm bill.  It's worth a read because it shows how entrenched, sacred-cow constituencies like farmers keep the status quo alive, using influence on Democrats and Republicans (like Randy Kuhl) on the Ag Committee.

As I've mentioned here before, one of the little-covered facts about ethanol subsidies is its impact on food prices (good summary here).  This change has made a major impact on the farm economy.  I just spent a lot of time with a family member who lives in the Plains states, and his report was that land prices are at record highs, reflecting the fact that farming has suddenly become quite profitable again. 

For example, corn prices, which have hovered around $2/bushel for years, are now twice that.  In Iowa, the average corn price in December, 2005 was $1.70.  In December, 2007, it was $3.95.  As the Time article points out, the large farms that receive huge subsidies under the farm bill were making money in 2005.  In 2007, they're making a killing.  No matter: the dysfunctional Washington process that created the farm bill is unable to take this into account.


They must have learned from the education lobby - the big difference is the kids are getting fatter, but not smarter. Seems the farmers are doing a better job

I'm guessing every other lobby learns from the farmers -- their giant subsidies slide through Congress on greased rails, yet farmers are generally held in high esteem.

The sad thing is it probably won't matter if Massa or Kuhl gets elected - it will be business as usual in Washington. Maybe Rotten can get them to start subsidies for bloggers.

Let's not blame it all on ethanol subsidies. The devaluing dollar has made exports much more attractive and worldwide demand for corn and wheat is up.

True - which makes our subsidies of ethanol even more troubling, because we're subsidizing a fuel source that's getting more expensive as the population grows.