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Snowguy716

Farm subsidies

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I've just been reading a little.. something considered bad and sciency by our government... and I've just come to the conclusion of how flawed our subsidization is in relation to farming.

People want free trade. No. Republicans want free trade. They want to open barriers to poor countries so that we can buy their sugar and their cotton extremely cheaply. Meanwhile, farmers in Minnesota are put out of business.

But it's not real free trade they're supporting. THey're supporting a free trade that puts the interests of multinational corporations ahead of American farmers and workers.

But it's not just international trade, it's also an environmental concern. Look at the way California is subsidized in its agricultural industry. Let's face it: California is in no way nearly as fertile as places like Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. You have farming in California in a region that does not typically have measurable rainfall from May to October. This is basically the growing season. All of the crops must be 100% irrigated.

Where does that water come from?

Mostly from the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the Colorado River basin. How much does it cost a typical farmer in California to water the fields? About $3.50/acre foot. That means it costs them $3.50 to cover an acre of land in a foot of water. You probably pay 20-50 times that amount for water at home... unless you have a well.

And what would happen if the pipes shut off in California? There would be no farming. Californians view wasting water as just letting it sit in the river and flow to the coast.

This is in contrast to easterners that believe wasting water is letting it run down the drain. We do not view letting water stay in a river as wasting it.

The amount of revenue the government sees for every $1 it spends on water subsidization in the west is about $.10-.20 depending on where you are.

During the 1960s and '70s you were considered a good politician if you could secure a dam in your district so that you had better water use in the west. Jimmy Carter came out and decried that policy.. saying it was fiscally unsound.. especially when the government was getting $.10 back for every dollar it was spending. Is it surprising that Reagan won big time in the west?

And who's paying for this? Everybody else. You and me. We're paying the farmers of California to have profitable farming on hugely unprofitable land, most of which is owned by large insurance companies, etc.. and stiffing the family farmers of the midwest that have been farming for generations.

Of course, the benefit is that we have cheap oranges. But just think for a moment?

Wouldn't it be better to encourage farmers to farm arable land that can get by most years on natural rainfall? Why is it that we pay huge subsidies to cotton growers in the southwest, but pay people NOT to grow it in Louisiana and Mississippi?

The central valley of California is a desert-like arid, polluted wasteland. When settlers found it, they were surprised to see a valley filled with swamps and huge oak trees. They could also see the mountains surrounding the valley.

A drive through there today is a drive through endless orange groves. The air has a thick haze. The mountains are invisible... and people use water as wastefully as any other American as they turn the desert they created into green, lush golf courses.

Las Vegas touts using recycled water in its fountains.. but still shoots vast amounts of water into 110*F dry desert air.

The Colorado River no longer reaches the ocean, and California takes more and more than its share as time goes on.

My question is: Why should we be subsidizing large insurance companies to grow crops on non-arable land at a huge cost to tax payers when we could use that money to help family farmers grow their crops on fertile soil where water is, for the most part, free via rain?

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Just wait til' the "water wars" of the next several decades out west as water usage pacts expire and must be renegotiated based on current populations. Things will be interesting.

Until we stop farming from going to "industrial" farms, this practice will not cease and our food quality will decline. Not to mention the other enviromental pressures it creates.

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It doesn't pertain to water, but look into renting "The Future of Food" if you can find it (it's on Netflix). It'll make you hate Monsanto (which you should anyway).

Also, take a look at this: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/qausage.html

Water use issues in the Southwest supercede farming. The big users are also industrial (mostly mines) and power plants. I agree with you though, I've never understood why they farm out here, at least using the traditional Western methods and not the native floodplain farming techniques (which sustained cultures here for thousands of years).

In Arizona, farms are being replaced by suburban housing though. Not that this sprawl is necessarily a good thing, but it does kick the farms out. The Tucson area is now almost completely devoid of farming save for a few cotton fields. The Phoenix Metro area will look the same soon enough, as will its exhurbs.

In Utah, the sprawl around Salt Lake City (so-called "Metro Utah") has resulted in much of the Utah Valley between Provo and SLC turning into residential development on what used to be farmland. The same thing is happening to the north of the city as well.

Like I said, sprawl is not a good thing, but at least those awful tract homes use less water than their farming predecessors.

California is out of control though. The Imperial Valley (which was the Imperial Desert until the 1920's) is the epitome of the evils of irrigation farming. Some of the environmental things that are ocurring out there are pretty scary.

Keep in mind that irrigation not only uses water and increases pollution, but also greatly increases the mineral content and salinity in the water. As a result, we're spending millions of dollars a year to desalinating the Colorado River as it goes into Mexico, all because of the Imperial Valley and the farms in the Yuma Area.

http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/html/crwq.html

However, they feed the cities of the West, and produce prices would skyrocket there if the farms did not exist. I assure you that it's a very hot topic in the West, although I don't know that anyone has any solutions for it.

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It just gives me more of a reason to stay in Minnesota, where water is plentiful.

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Farm subsidies go to the huge corporate farmers that have put all of he small farmers out of business. One of the biggest subsidies goes to corn production which is used to make high fructose corn syrup that is put into most processed food and is making americans fat.

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned tobacco subsidies......need I say more?

Giving out subsidies to corporate farm concerns is nuts. To me, irrigation and water is the big issue here. Water is the most precious commodity we have on this planet. Petrol isn't necessary for life.

When oil runs out, pretty soon from what I hear, water will become the new precious commodity. For a while in the 1980s a gallon of water from the grocery store cost more than a gallon of gas. Even though the price for a barrel of oil has gone up dramatically, water will certainly follow suit.

Even in Seattle, for over 90 days this summer, all we had was two light sprinkles. Water is the emergency. We must begin IMMEDIATELY to work on technology to inexpensively desalinate sea water. At this time it's our only hope. There simply isn't going to be enough water to irrigate crops AND supply the rising number of human beings.

Subsidizing this kind of technology would be a hell of a lot more productive than subsidizing food production.

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I guess, in reality, we are really subsidizing Spinach Corporations to feed Americans E.Coli....

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned tobacco subsidies......need I say more?

Tobacco subsidies ended last year

Not much has changed over the years: for the small/medium sized farms that need some help, none is available; but the big guys can get anything (it seems). Farming is much more dependant on foreign markets than any other segment in the American economy; thus, when the gov't closes a market for political reasons, subsidies were born. It's like a dog chasing its tail system, but not worse than other gov't programs (ex. welfare)

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You're right.. farm subsidies are better than spending $100s of billions on wars that have admittedly been based on lies and deception.

But that's okay because the government is cutting subsidies and welfare, so when the deficit continues to rise they can call themselves fiscally "resonponsible."

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