No drought required

The Wasington Post reports on a federal program to support cattle farmers:

At first, livestock owners were required to be in a county officially suffering a drought to collect the money. But ranchers who weren't eligible complained to their representatives in Washington, and in 2003 Congress dropped that requirement. Ranchers could then get payments for any type of federally declared "disaster." In some cases, USDA administrators prodded employees in the agency's county offices to find qualifying disasters, even if they were two years old or had nothing to do with ranching or farming.

If this were happening in an African country, there would be all kinds of complaints about corruption and poor governance.  There would be demands that we cut off aid until this kind of corruption be ended.

Contrary to popular belief, agricultural subsidies in OECD countries are not the most damaging part of the rigged international market for agriculture – that honour goes to import tariffs.  But they are a colossal waste of taxpayer money, and they contribute to the difficulties faced by agricultural producers in poor countries to make a living.  It is hard to understand why voters in developed countries put up with it.

1 thought on “No drought required”

  1. Because farmers make a lot of noise, and the average voter thinks he’s supporting good old home-grown agriculture against those nasty predatory foreigners?

    There may well be a national secutiry type argument in favour of subsidies to keep domestic agriculture, but I suspect that a far better way to achieve the desired end is a quota for food imports (ie. set a quota for imports at say 30% of the previous year’s domestic production in each major food group (starch, meat, fruit etc.), and auction import rights to importers.

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