Sunday, February 7, 2010

Invoking nostalgia for the rural to save farm subsidies

Senator Blanche Lincoln's recent statement in response to proposed cuts to farm subsidies struck me as disingenuous. Or maybe she just isn't as well informed as she should be, given that she is the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Lincoln said:
I am standing up for farmers and ranchers and all of rural America once again by opposing cuts that will harm the hardworking men and women who are the backbone of our rural economy. ... While I, too, believe we must reduce the federal deficit, we must all share in this responsibility.
The New York Times characterized Lincoln's statement as "accus[ing] the White House of unfairly focusing on farm communities." Read the story here.

But contrary to Lincoln's suggestion, rural and agricultural economies are not one in the same. Only 6% of rural Americans are involved in agricultural labor. (Read a USDA ERS report here). Rural and farm communities are also not synonymous. Further, the 2008 Farm Bill made one of the lowest allocations ever to rural development. Here's a statement from the Center for Rural Affairs which explains that the ratio of rural development funding to commodity subsidy spending in the farm bill is 1:233! That's $150 million in rural development spending compared to $35 billion for commodity subsidies. Read more from CFRA here.

1 comment:

Harry Styron said...

Senator Lincoln is trying to stay in office. She's taking public positions that are anti-union and pro-industrial agriculture to make sure that she has the support of her state's powerhouses, Walmart and Tyson Foods.