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Welfare Farmers Keep the Poor from Feeding Themselves
Janet Kauffman tells it like it is on the farm these days.
I have very fond memories of my days as a young teenager working summers on my grandfather's farm in North Dakota. The farm had a barn, an equipment shed, a granary, and a house, just like what anyone might imagine a farm to be. All the buildings are gone now, no one has lived there for decades. The land is rented. The house is still there, falling down from rot. No one in our family wants to tear it down.
So, I knew what Janet Kauffman was talking about in her down-to-earth article The Fantasy of the Clip Art Farm in Dissent Magazine. Based on her own experience in Hudson, Michigan, she talks about how farm policy is still being created as if this nostalgic image of farms was true. She says most of the seventy-one billion dollars for farm subsidies over the last four years have gone not to save the family farm but to enrich large corporate farmers whom she calls "welfare farmers".
These farmers justify these subsidies by saying "Americans want cheap food" and "we feed the world." But the fact is that farm subsidies in this country are now being very stongly attacked by precisely those people who have studied global agricultural practices.
The group Oxfam International in March, 2002, released a major report on globalization entitled "Rigged Rules and Double Standards" which includes as its first policy recommendation: "Improving market access for poor countries and ending the cycle of subsidised agricultural over-production and export dumping by rich countries."
If that sounds hard to fathom, please go and read the report. Giving welfare to farmers in our country helps cause enormous suffering in poor countries by making agriculture unprofitable in poor countries.
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