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Frequent Contributor

College Student and Government controls

I am currently a college student at K-state majoring in agronomy and i have been preparing for an upcoming discussion meet and one of the topics is.....The government has always been involved in AG. Is the current level of government involvement a net hindrance or a net benefit to agriculture?

 

I have been focused on the EPA and the Tier technology of engines, just because thats what im familiar with and its a developing story, but i was wondering what else i might look into, or what some of your concerns might be as farmers and holding ag related jobs.

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10 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: College Student and Government controls

Decide who you want to be in this discussion. Everyone in ag has a different perspective on the influence of government in their business. For example, the livestock producers aren't happy with the ethanol subsidies because the biofuel companies are another competitor for grain. Once you've decide which subindustry you are in, it should be relatively easy to research that group's opinion.

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Member

Re: College Student and Government controls

The government is always a net hinderance.  Governent has a place to provide stability for the private market to function efficiently, but whenever it goes beyond, with acts such as subsidies, price supports, etc., society will pay for it and result in a net loss.  Actually net losses are often more direct than on society overall. 

For example, a subsidy on a commodity should result in a lower cost of production,  which would result in a producer being able to keep a greater margin.  However, with a lower cost, comes greater supply, which will result in a lower price at the marketplace due to overproduction.  This can go so far until the producer is even worse off than before, and the poor tax payer will always lose.

 

Take home message: Remain skeptical of all government programs.  Bring back small government.

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Frequent Contributor

Re: College Student and Government controls

I want everyone involved, i want to know stories from all sides, both good and bad

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Senior Advisor

Re: College Student and Government controls

Some want gov. out on one hand but present in another---EPA or crop insurance---NCBA wants says no to GIPSA --then wants subsidized loans for people affected by the cattle company from the east  that stiffed feeder cattle  sellers ---just epends on which side of the fence one is on at the time---like the "investment bank '' mess--who cleans it up ??

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Veteran Advisor

Re: College Student and Government controls

If you want stories 'good and bad' here is an opinion from outside your country.

When corn was priced low the US farmer got subsidies from several programs to make up at least most of the loss from the low price.

The corn was exported into Canada at the depressed price and at much less than our cost of production.

With little or no financial assistance from our governments the Canadian corn grower had to compete with this subsidized corn being dumped in our market at below COP which lowered our price to the cost of US corn delivered into Ontario. Meanwhile the US farmer did not have a signal from the market, because of the government subsidy, to reduce production.

Production fell in Canada.

Swine producers who bought feed could buy it cheaper than land based swine producers could grow it encouraging expansion in swine by integrators buying feed not growing it.

Distortions in many areas because of government.

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Frequent Contributor

Re: College Student and Government controls

In my years of farming our government has always been tinkering with grain production.  My first memory of government intervention was the old "soil bank" program where the government paid you to grow nothing on your base acres if you so desired.    From that point on there have been various programs targeted at controlling production.  There were grain storage programs that were utilized in years of overproduction which paid farmers to store grain on their farms.  There was also the PIK program in the 80's. 

 

We also have had the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)  to take highly erodible land out of production along with the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to take specifically targeted lands out of production to improve water quality.   Pretty difficult to measure the success of these programs.  

 

Now we have the ethanol mandates which have had a huge impact on grain prices and the resulting fallout to livestock producers and ultimately, the consumer.  On the other hand the ethanol program has helped the consumer with prices at the gas pumps. 

 

Personally, I would like to see the government get out of all supply / price control programs and let the market dictate what and how much is produced.  We do need the government involved on the environmental side of things to insure that issues with soil erosion and water quality are addressed.  

 

I am sure I have missed much but those are just a few rambling thoughts that come to mind.   

 

 

 

 

 

     

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Senior Contributor

Re: College Student and Government controls

One question/issue is whether government is more or less involved in agriculture as opposed to the rest of sociiety.  Is ag getting a good or bad break?

 

Another seminal question is about the strucutre of agriculture and how governmnet is involved.   Government has been involved since the start of our nation in the form of tariffs and taxes, but much of the intervention since the Depression has been in the guise of helping the family farmer.  Much of it was politically as well as economically motivated.  Since the Depression, agriculture has changed monumentally.  So, has government changed it's basis, it's raison d'etre, for ag involvement?  Was the intervention appropriate then and is it still appropriate now?  Does it aim at different objectives?  Does the Clean Air Act and Renewable Fuels legislation constitute government intervention in agriculture?  It's not part of the Farm Bill.

 

One would say yes to some of this, with CRP as an example of ecological motivation.  But what about the orientation to the family farmer?  What is a family farmer?  Do we even have a family farmer?  Is a family farmer an economic construct or a cultural or moral construct?

 

So, define what a "net benefit to agricuture is".  What/who is agriculture?  What is the avowed objective of government intervention?   Does goveernment intervention provide a method for outside forces such as environmental activists to shape agriculture through use of court decisions?

 

Other messages have provided some good perspectives for consideration.

 

I think you need to define the scope of the discussion and then take each point on it's merits.

 

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: College Student and Government controls

Your focus on the EPA is a great place to start.  If you want to expand that, look into the regulations that addresses air quality, such as air particulate matter.  The EPA wants to reduce the maximum allowable by about 1/2, meaning every farm will be potentially liable to retrofit machinery to control dust emissions while performing field operations. 

 

Another area concerns the Chesapeake Bay area watershed and their proposal to limit TMDL's going into the bay.  It will restrict phosphate and other fertilizers to achieve its goals. From my sources, even urban residents will be required to prevent all surface runoff from their lawns as they also contribute to the phosphate runoff, even more than farmland (rediculous, you say? Right!) 

 

If successful, they have indicated they intend to apply these restrictions to the Mississippi watershed, from Minnesota down to the Gulf.  This will definitely impact all producers and even urban residents as they will completely regulate all water sources going into the river system.

 

These are only a few of the regulations that will threaten the viability of farmers and their farms in the future.  If you need more specific information, email me, my profile has an email address. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: College Student and Government controls

Not trying to start a border dispute here, but I have relatives living north of the border.  Their neighbors farm in Ontario and during a visit with them, they informed me in person they received tax credits against their annual income taxes, and were in fact provided as a "subsidy" for crop producers.  Perhaps, there's no "official" farm program that provides a direct subsidy in Canada, but there is something that's not being reported.

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