Captialism always looks good until we see someone else that has more land, more money, more benefits than we have. We need to be mindful that the alternative is far worse than what we have in America. If you want to see how an oligarchy works and how it discriminates between the haves and have nots, go to Russia. There's a guy that owns more acres than a bunch of mega farmers in America, by far. Do you think that's fair to the small guys? Heck no. Do you think they have a chance of changing their situation for the better. NO. Their government is so corrupt, more than you can even imagine, that change for them would be tantamount to another revolution and bloodbath. At least in America, we still have the freedom to lobby our elected representatives and have a say in the writing of legislation.
Back to the topic of land ownership and whether he is a farmer or not; If a guy owns 31k acres, at the least, he's a landowner, and a farmer, but not by your definition. Farming land always looks good to the guy sitting on the other side of the fence. It's easy to sit and become angry and jealous of other people's successes. It's another story if he were to take on the risk of farming that much land. It's human nature to see what we want to see and not see everything that comes with that privilege.
Capitalism is a great system, which I defend immensely. However, what we currently have going on in agriculture is certainly not capitalism. You seem pretty sensitive to anyone questioning the size of government intervention, whether it is no limit crop insurance subsidies, bailouts, or whathaveyou. You are entitled to your own opinion and thoughts. Just recognize that others have their thoughts, too, and if something is good, more scrutiny is not a bad thing. BA, myself, and others are just putting things out for the light of day to shine on. If that offends you, so be it.
Insurance companies and their retainers, like farmers, have tremendous political clout; compounded by the Citizens United court decision that lets corporations spend any given amount to buy Congress. When both farmers and the insurance industry are in bed together, enjoying too much of a good thing, reform is difficult. Accordingly I don't see FSA taking back crop insurance from private hands in spite of the billion dollar + savings potential out there, But substantially more government pork goes into insurance industry pockets when mega-farmers are subsidized. This can be stopped by people like Harken and Grassley who really want and continue to work for an effective and defensible government farm program; They don't like accelerating trends toward mega-farms any more than we do. It would help also, if the Farm Bureau and the commodity groups would jump on this, but I'm afraid too much of thier funding comes from the Agri-industry rather than farmers for them to see straight.
Capitalism is what we have. Legislation is the regulation of what is good and restricts the bad. People have a vote on what gets done and how we do it. It's called an election of the people and by the people, for the people. If you do not like what we have, then let your voice heard in the ballot box. But remember, it's not just your vote that counts, it's everyone's vote, and the majority speaks its will.
The voice of the majority of farmers is expressed by the major commodity organizations that are grassroots based. This includes corn, beans, wheat, rice, cotton, sorghum, cattle, hogs and other groups, not to mention groups like the Farm Bureau, NFO, NFU, DFA, ect.. Together, when they speak with one voice on issues, they have tremendous clout. They represent all farmers, regardless of size. And yes, they may all contribute to the political campaigns of their candidates of choice, limited only by the laws of this land.
Farm groups never represent the insurance industry, but may from time to time agree on issues that are important to both groups. They are not "in bed" together anymore than this motley cew of folks reading these web pages.
As I have suggested on this site before, if someone dislikes what a commodity group supports on the Hill, join that group and speak your voice. Let the marketplace of ideas decide whether your ideas are worth advancing. If they agree, congratulations. If not, continue speaking your mind. If enough people are convinced, you've done your work well. But also know this, be prepared to have to adjust when your opinion is not the majority. If you stay connected and engage the issues and not take your anger out on people with a personal vendetta, you will win the respect of those who are your adversaries.
The thing is farm programs aren`t understood by the public, farm legislation is written in committee by Rs and Ds and clueless members of congress blindly pass it, I mean what are we talking maybe 1% of the budget? But what do you tell a urbanite from San Diego or Des Moines that hears of farmland selling for $15,000 and renting for $500 an acre, farmersteads with $1 million in machinery sitting out front? Justify why a portion of their tax money should help these guys. Farm bills were sold to the public as necessary to help Norman Rockwell type farmers, most of us today more ressemble the "Koch brothers". I have no doubt there will be another farmbill and this time they won`t even tout it as a "farmbill to end all farmbills". The 1980`s farm debt write-offs need to be brought up often, because if you don`t learn history, you are doomed to repeat the mistakes. If we had honest capitalism those that got a $800,000 write should be made to pay it off today after they have gotten on their feet, maybe be nice and not charge them interest Those that did have 80`s debt write-off, I have no doubt are liberal because they see themselves as "children of the government" much like the spoiled kid that racks up credit card debt, livin` the high life and comes crying to the old man to bail him out when the bill collectors knock on his door. Harkin and Grassley have tried for yrs to have payment limits, they got some but there`s too many loopholes and with insurance that is a joke Bill Gates and Warren Bufett could start farming and get the same cheap insurance as a guy with 80 acres, there is no disincentive to being big big big with this system. At any rate whatever is available, I`ll be in line with the other serfs to get whatever crumbs fall off the cake plates.
Smokey, I should have used the term oligarchy instead of monopoly in my original post. We couldn't agree more about Russia, having traveled 1000 miles by car through the steppes of southern Russia as guests of Russian friends. My 31,000 acre contemporary is no New Russian who got where they are by theft extortion, and personal connections. He's an American capitalist who used our system legally to build his holdings.. I maintain he was shielded by access to farm progran benefits including crop insurance that directly or indirectly reduced his risk profile to a point where he was a mega-competitor for land against other players. These programs were never intended to facilitate 31,000 acre holdings.
My capitalist straw man is a land baron and proto-farmer. I don't envy him, but I would prefer to see 100 one thousand acre farmer owner/operators in his place. I maintain they do more good for our system and their communities than he does. I had a good college education equivalent to his; access to capital as a 5th generation established farmer; and lots of leadership training as a military officer and as a member of various farm (commodity group related), and church boards up to the national level. However, I was content (perhaps at my Peter Principle limit) operating my 880 are family farm for 30+ years without expanding, as we have no next generation offspring with an interest or aptitude to continue actively farming. Others in my position have expanded and provided very good outlooks in farming for the next generation. I wish them well and hope they don't get swallowed by multi-township behemoths.
Commodity groups and general farm organizations indeed are grassroots based with farmer-elected boards and open procedures to develop policy.. But most sell or have sold insurance as profit centers or as a service for members. Don't tell me they are not in bed with the insurance industry and Mother Monsanto.. You don't own or rent K-Street office space and pay high priced full time executives with farmer subscriptions alone. Often there is a real synergy between the interests of agri-business and their farmer customers, but not always. Paid staff who are around for years, even decades, won't point out the difference to their unpaid revolving farmer leadership, because they enjoy being paid regularlly. Therein lies the problem.
Also, farm org financial political contributions are chicken feed compared to agri-business contributions. Farm orgs still have enormous clout in congress especially when united because they represent real votes and important economic issues in every state. It's just not based on buying votes with cash.
That's a good and fair question, Nox, and one that could be addressed with our legislators and commodity groups. My current take on the issue, however, is the commodity groups are working to keep as many acres enrolled in the insurance program as well as commodity programs in order to spead the cost of administration over as many acres as possible, especially on the insurance side. They need volume to keep the per unit costs low.
Sure, if the concensus among all commodity groups is to limit the dollar amount, at 100 or 200K or some other figure, so be it. I won't argue with that. But let's get concensus first. Our legislators need to know where we stand before they will stick their necks out and risk a political firestorm.