Here is a guest editorial from Doug Sposito, legislative candidate for House of Representatives from LD 30*.
Gabby Giffords, a New Farm Bill and the Slow Bleed of Capitalism
Republican Candidate LD 30 State House
Newly elected Congress woman Gabriel Giffords (D) has been recently, touring District 8 touting congress’ new Farm bill. The Congresswoman’s support for the bill is largely, she claims, a support for the small organic rural farmer.
Until recently a farmer with an adjusted income of $2.5 million per year was eligible for farm subsidies. A House amendment to the bill has lowered the cap to $1 million. The Bush administration and Farm subsidy reformers want to end farm subsidy payments to any farmer earning an adjusted income above $200,000 per year.
Specifically, some 358,057 individuals received $9.8 billion in crop subsidy benefits alone between 2003 and 2005 and $34.8 billion in commodity program payments were made for those same program years. Arizona received less than 0.80% of the available commodity program payments.
Montana Sen. Max Baucus (D) stated his committee will find an extra $8 billion to $10 billion for new social programs funded through the Farm Bill, by creating new agriculture-related tax proposals. This would be added to the bill’s baseline spending, estimated to be more than $280 billion over the next five years.
And how necessary are these subsidies to small organic farmers. Surveys have shown the organic food market is the fastest growing segment of agriculture in America with 63% of Americans stating they like to buy the organic label. The Organic Trade Association estimates that total organic sales in 2006 to be near $13.8 billion. Furthermore they expect to see an increase in sales of 70% by 2011.
All commodity crop exports have increased — to a record $68.7 billion in 2006 — and are expected to reach $77 billion in 2007. In fact it is said that the current subsidy programs only encourage overproduction, with the surplus dumped on the international market making our southern neighbors economies even more vulnerable.
Ms. Giffords support for the bill and its millionaire cap seems a little curious. According to a USGS study of water consumption, 80% of all ground water pumped in our state is for agricultural irrigation. By the same study domestic residential use is only 0.8% of the total ground water.
This is apparently a contradictory position for a politician who champions its citizens to do more water conservation while handing out billions in federal welfare dollars that will only increase overall water use in the state.
A better explanation of Gabby’s support may be the litany of government expansion written in to the budget of the bill.
There is expansion of the food stamp program, the free school lunch and now, breakfast programs. There are grants for free internet service and hundreds of millions of tax dollars earmarked for new start up and “Socially Disadvantaged Farmers”.
The top abusers of the farm welfare program can be found here. But what is most disturbing is how Congresswoman Giffords hides behind the hardworking small farmer disregarding our very real, ground water issues while her real support is for bill intended to expand the role of government and continue the slow bleed of capitalism
*Publication of this editorial is not meant as an endorsement of the author but rather an opportunity for candidates to directly reach our audience.