Obama and Agriculture

In March 2008, The Nation reported that surely Obama was the better choice of candidate for farmers since he obviously supported the best interests of farmers.

You can read the whole article here:  http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat/322762

But here are some quotes from the article:

“By opposing the bill, President Bush and John McCain are saying no to America’s farmers and ranchers, no to energy independence, no to the environment, and no to millions of hungry people,” argued Obama.

“The bill places greater resources into renewable energy and conservation. And, during this time of rising food prices, the farm bill provides an additional $10 billion for critical nutrition programs. I am also pleased that the bill includes my proposal to help thousands of African-American farmers get their discrimination claims reviewed under the Pigford settlement,” said Obama.”

Now you might be wondering, as I was, who these “socially disadvantaged farmers” were.  Were these people who lived in third world country-type rural settings like some of the remote areas of Kentucky or Virginia?  No.

Here are the descriptions of what it means to be a socially disadvantaged group, farmer or rancher in the U.S.  This information is from the U.S. Government’s Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990.

(1) SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED GROUP.–As used in this section, the term “socially disadvantaged group” means a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.

(2) SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED FARMER OR RANCHER.–As used in this section, the term “socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher” means a farmer or rancher who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group.

So in other words, it’s not linked to where you live, your income, or anything else that really has to do with true disadvantage.  In this case, they really mean, minority racial or ethnic group.  I know some pretty poor farmers in the rural areas of Tennessee, but they wouldn’t qualify for the aid in this farm package because they are of the large group called Caucasians.

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture),

“Socially disadvantaged (SDA) farmers and ranchers face many challenges. Increased

production costs, lack of economies of scale, and government payments predominantly

delivered to the largest farms serve as significant barriers to success for these farmers.

More than the typical U.S. farm, SDA-operated farms tend to raise livestock and specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables rather than field crops.”


Actually, I don’t think that has anything to do with someone’s race.  These issues face ALL SMALL-FARM farmers!!


So why does this even matter?  Well, let’s take a look at the advantage of being a SDA.  You can get more loans at a lower percentage rate.  These farmers qualify for an increased amount of subsidies, help improving the quality of their farm, waivers, additional disaster assistance, technical assistance, representation, and more.  These things can be found under titles such as “Increased Payments for Certain Producers” in the 2008 Farm Bill. 


How can people not think this stuff is reverse prejudice?


In addition to the money set aside for the Socially Disadvantaged, the Farm Bill also retains subsidies for some of the country’s largest farms and offers no incentive for conservation efforts.  In case you’re wondering, a subsidy is paid to “farmers” or landowners who happen to own land that USED to be a farm and there are millions of dollars of subsidies given out each year to “help” these farmers grow their crops even though these “farmers” are under no obligation to grow ANYTHING – nope, not even a family garden.    


In September 2008, John Melcher reported in New West Politics that:

“Every president working on a new farm bill has to be comprehensive, knowledgeable and flexible. On this point, McCain is not ready to lead. One-liner quotes do not cut it.

Obama does pass muster as a ready, willing and knowledgeable advocate for both farmers and consumers. Also to his credit, Obama relates with compassion and common sense to using America’s abundant food supplies for the needy here at home and for the hungry abroad.”

Well, it sounds like Obama certainly is an advocate, but not an advocate for everyone.  You only qualify for the kind of help many farmers need if you are also in a qualifying minority or ethnic group.

Obama did a great job of making sure everyone thought he was truly going to help them, that he was going to do what he said, and that he was going to make our world a better place.

Just a few short months after he took office, we have seen one example after another where Obama continues to increase the power of the government, the taxation of the American people, and the lack of trust in our administration.

In March 2009, the Corn and Soy Bean Digest reported that:

During last’s week’s address to Congress and the nation, the president proposed sweeping cuts to the farm safety net included in the 2008 Farm Bill. His $3.6 trillion proposed budget called for, among other things: phasing out over a three-year period direct payments to producers with sales revenue of more than $500,000 annually; establishing a $250,000 commodity program payment limit; reducing crop insurance funds by $5.2 billion over 10 years; and cutting Market Access Program funds, which are used by the wheat industry and others to promote sales of U.S. products, by 20%.

You can read the full text here: http://cornandsoybeandigest.com/marketing/0302-Obama-cuts-farm-bill/

You can also see from the cuts mentioned above that cuts include taking away money that would help promote sales of U.S. products and punish farmers with a high revenue, yet it’s almost impossible to be a small farmer with help and the help is going to farmers who qualify for the Socially Disadvantaged program…

Again, we’re heading toward socialism faster than anyone wants to admit.  Let’s start putting all the pieces together, people!!

Sonya Haskins



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