Cons exist in gov’t farming programs

Published 12:06 am Sunday, June 20, 2010

I read with interest the “Staying alive” article by Mr. Vershal Hogan in the Sunday, Feb. 21, edition of The Natchez Democrat. Local farmer Ross McGee is correct that there are cons about the numerous government programs that keep farmers from failing. There are a few factual observations on the subject, and I do not believe that they are so complex that they cannot be explained as per Mr. McGee.

1. A farmer can obtain a “crop loan” from a cooperating bank by placing some raggedy equipment up as collateral and receive a loan, guaranteed up to 95 percent by the U.S. government. He/she does this year in and year out, no matter the quality and profitability of his operation. He/she does have to pay for crop failure insurance, or he/she can apply for one of the safety net programs that keeps them from failing.

2. The farmer does not have to own the land that he grows crops on as he/she can lease it for a cash consideration (“crop loan”) or he can have the landowner “gamble” with him/her and usually pays that form of rent by giving the landowner 25 percent of the crop, or the proceeds there from.

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3. If the farmer does not own the land, then he does not pay property taxes on it.

4. In the case of the farmer that owns his/her land, then they do not pay rent or share a profit from the crops with a landowner, but are still able to obtain a crop loan, and can qualify for one of the many “don’t let you fail” programs as mentioned in Mr. Hogan’s article. Also, he/she does have to pay annual property taxes which is more than made up for in crop profit or from some safety net program mentioned therein.

5. Farmers do not even have to own the equipment (combines, cotton pickers, etc.) designed to harvest their crop. They can take a portion of their crop loan money and have a contract harvester come in and gather their crop and even deliver it to the cotton gin, grain purchaser or whatever.

6. The farmer does not work but six months out of the year. The balance can be spent hunting, fishing, going snow skiing, at Tahoe or wherever.

In addition to the above observations, in the article Mr. David Carter lauded the American farmer as a provider of food that is only 10 percent of the U.S. consumer’s budget. We do have the highest quality and abundance of food in the world, but Mr. Carter fails to mention that the subsidies that farmers receive come from the same tax-paying consumers to the tune of some 15 percent of gross income. It’s called false economics, Mr. Carter.

Finally, I believe some U.S. farmers annually dump huge amounts of carcinogenic materials (pesticides and herbicides) into our fresh water aquifers, streams and rivers. Some chemicals have cancer-causing substances, and farmers are able to continue to do this without any reprimand whatsoever. Any other industry would have to pay exorbitant fines and in some cases permanently shut down its operations.

So, no tears for the farmer from this venue! He/she cannot fail. There aren’t any level playing fields when compared with other businesses and industries in the United States.

Things are real fine down on the farm.

J.J. Ring III

Natchez resident