Thursday, August 27, 2009

To The Six Of You Holding Your Breath On Ag Subsidy Reform, Stop. Now.

Yesterday, I pointed out some of the recent public criticism of the Obama Administration's continuation of US sugar support programs and trade protectionism. My response to this (much warranted) criticism was, essentially, "What on earth did you expect, folks? Duh."

Today, I bring you further proof that fans of US agricultural subsidies have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to the Obama Administration's future agriculture policies. The venerable Fresno Bee reports that US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was out yesterday reassuring America's dairy farmers - who, along with growers of sugar, peanuts and cotton, are classic beneficiaries of US farm subsidies and trade protection - that more government cheese (pun intended!) was on the way:
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday that the federal government is doing what it can to assist dairy operators through one of the milk industry's worst downturns in years.


In remarks to The Bee's Editorial Board, Vilsack said the USDA has boosted the dairy industry by increasing the price-support program, buying products to be used in the school lunch program and making exporting easier.

Today in Modesto, he will take part in a town hall meeting. Vilsack has been hit with questions about the dairy industry's troubles at every one of his first 17 stops nationwide.

And he likely will hear from more dairy operators in Modesto. California, led by Tulare County, is the nation's top milk producer.

Vilsack said he understands the problems the dairy industry is facing and he said the department also is looking at long-term solutions, including creating better price stability.

"What is important is that we can't have the volatility that we are experiencing," Vilsack said. "It just makes it much more difficult for people to decide to get in the business, stay in the business or get out of the business."

Vilsack's Valley visit was the second Tuesday by a high-ranking Washington official. Earlier, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., toured Mendota with Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno.
Never fear, America! More dairy subsidies are on the way! Tom Vilsack to the rescue!

But seriously, statements like these (against "volatility," for "stability," etc.) strongly indicate that we'll see "emergency" taxpayer money - in the form of trade- and production-distorting price and/or income supports - thrown to US dairy farmers before the end of the year. And they also are a strong indication, along with the aforementioned sugar nonsense, that the long-term reform of American farm policies is not going to happen anytime soon.

Of course, considering that Secretary Vilsack himself openly receives over $42,000 in annual farm subsidy payouts(!), this should really come as no surprise to anyone paying attention.

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