No farm bill: Just food and tax inflation
By Dennis T. Avery
"Congress has failed put in place a farm bill for the first time in more than 60 years," says a reporter for station WBNG in New York State. U. S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack debates this however: "President Obama has a strong record of supporting America's farmers, ranchers, and rural America. Today, agriculture is thriving. . . . Today there is a record amount of biofuel production. The administration recently announced new renewable fuel standard targets that will increase biodiesel production. . . . And he has increased the amount of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline."
That's not a farm bill. That's a costly, short-sighted biofuels policy. There are far fewer corn/soybean farmers in America than livestock, poultry, and dairy farmers. At $7–8 per bushel of corn, the livestock farmers can't afford to feed their animals—unless meat and milk prices rise to gouge consumers even more severely.
Consumers have been reeling under food-burning inflation since 2007. The tax costs for food stamps have roughly doubled too. Fewer and fewer low-income people can afford to buy their own food with higher food prices, reduced family incomes, and lower employment under Obama.
A gas station in Los Angeles recently charged $5.99 per gallon of gas! Not to mention the high tax costs of ethanol subsidies buried in the federal budget. And why are we burning corn instead of eating it? Supposedly, to fend off man-made global warming. But, we've now had 16 years of global non-warming! The warmists said non-warming wouldn't be a real trend until 15 years had passed and now they have.
The models were wrong. The UN climate panel was wrong. The billions spent on futile climate modeling exercises only misled the public with government "research" money. It was all a sham, based on a single short period of temperature rise, from 1976–1998. (The similar temperature surge from 1915–1940 came just before the big surge in global CO2 emissions.)
Meanwhile America is rapidly becoming more energy-independent—no thanks to corn ethanol. The real energy independence is coming from the private sector, which developed a new high-tech way to wrest the oil and gas from our vast deposits of shale rock. The environmental movement says fracking will endanger clean drinking water. Perhaps more truthfully, they know fracking, worldwide, means the end of their vast green-power play. With no global warming, their cause is gone and so is the rationale for destroying our energy systems.
Russia is facing economic recession as natural gas prices worldwide are forced down by the technology that U.S. industry pioneered. The U.S., which recently built terminals to import liquefied natural gas, will now use them to earn export dollars instead. The carbon emissions from the gas are about half those of coal-burning, so our "greenhouse footprint" has come down sharply even as the Greens have tried to block the fracking that made it possible.
German industries are threatening to take their jobs to the Third World as their electricity costs rise to pay for German windmills. Britain is facing power blackouts as its coal-burning power plants are forced to close by an EU "green" edict and its windmills generate little usable power. Potential nuclear investors have lost their enthusiasm because of the falling natural gas prices.
U.S. farmers must face the reality that there may not be an old-style "farm bill" under the pressure of $1 trillion-per-year deficits. We can't afford to pay big enough subsidies to the dairymen because we're already spending so much on corn subsidies.
Pity the dairy and hog farmers who have been bankrupted while temperatures stalled. Pity the American public facing food, fuel, and tax poverty.
Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers may write to him at PO Box 202 Churchville, VA 2442; email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website at www.cgfi.org.