As the result of a recent column, there was a lot of expressed opposition to the depravity in agriculture. Why is it that nearly all agriculture commodities are subsidized except livestock?

For example — to paraphrase commentary direct from the horse’s mouth (Washington DC), our federal government is currently spending more than $5 billion dollars on payments to all commodity producers except livestock. By any reasonable measure this is a scandalous misuse of taxpayers’ dollars and a bias against livestock producers.

Take into consideration that an additional $3 billion dollars is being spent on counter-cyclical aid—-meaning heavily subsidized crop insurance and disaster programs. It’s a slap in the face to a livestock producer that operates totally independent of any cropping interest. To add insult to injury, most recipients of these direct payments and entitlement programs were among the most affluent farmers in America. Does any of this sound fair and equitable? Does antagonizing our foreign trading partners, distorting markets, and promoting wasteful, fraudulent farming sound like it’s in the best interest of our country? Like one of my farmer friends said, "I can put a lawn chair up next to my mail box, and make more money than I can going to the field".

With the election coming up, trying to cut the federal budget, and commodity prices at an all-time high — wouldn’t this be the ideal time to eliminate these wasteful subsidies, or at least balance the scale between grain and livestock?

Farm income is projected to exceed one and a quarter billion dollars for fiscal 2012. Does this sound like a financially distressed segment of our economy needing more hand-outs? Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there are those that need help, but for the most part, we’re talking about millionaires. Isn’t this the height of hypocrisy, when Washington is proposing a tax increase of the rich — while at the same time, handing out billions of dollars to these same people? Even if they would cut the current subsidies by one half, which is being proposed — it seems to beg of common sense.

The rationale is that of feeding an ever growing world population; that we can’t put that challenge at risk. I think it’s more about cheap food and getting re-elected. Why can’t we let the marketplace seek its own price level, without being artificially propped up by tax payers’ expense?

Again, livestock producers have had to weather the storm. Fortunately, those that have survived are looking forward to a profitable future. But it hasn’t always been easy — devastating for those that haven’t been so lucky. Where is the subsidy for the small businessman on main street — likened to that of an independent, stand-alone livestock producer?

Making subsidy payments available to farmers who make more than a million dollars a year, is an insulting tax increase to every middle to low income family or business who doesn’t receive this kind of discriminatory benefit At a time when Washington is under pressure to cut spending and balance the budget,  wouldn’t you think they would stop giving it away? It is reported that multi-millionaire celebrities are creaming the farm program, taking advantage of every loop hole in the system. Let’s balance the scales of not only the tax payers but, also the less fortunate.

Those who work hard from sun up to sundown, without the benefit of inheritance or some other windfall, is just as worthy as those who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, or the benefactor of a slick attorney — at the expense of someone else less fortunate. Under the current farm programs, millionaires are being subsidized without any regard for need, yield, or prices. This represents such an unfair representation of those that are struggling to make a living farming, and total disregard for those extenuating circumstances that affect the bottom line.

Livestock producers have had to endure these cyclical market swings forever — and yet, the industry has survived, and the meat counter has never gone empty. This is how the marketplace is supposed to work, without bailouts, subsidies, and direct payments that prop up the rich at the expense of me poor.

Over the years, feed-lots have stood empty, cow-calf operations have been down sized or ended up in financially deceptive hands. But through it all they’ve never taken a penny of the tax payers’ money. This has made me proud to be on the livestock producers side of the fence and an advocate for those that have little or no voice in the marketplace.


(insightful stories written by Ken Knight)
 

Ken E. Knight is the author of the “Knightro Report”, a nationally syndicated livestock-marketing column, which is featured in this publication on a regular basis. Mr. Knight is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a major BS Degree in Meat and Animal Science and a minor in Communications. In addition to being a professional auctioneer, public speaker and livestock judge, he brings many years of corporate level meat and livestock market management and expertise to the industry for which he now serves as an independent voice of shared knowledge and experience.

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For more in-depth information regarding the topics that have been touched upon in this report, Knightro conducts livestock marketing seminars on a regular basis. To schedule a seminar, auction, judging, or speaking engagement, please contact Ken Knight, Knightro, W11911 County Road FF,  River  Falls,  WI 54022,  phone  toll free 1-877-KNIGTRO, phone 715-262-8480,  fax 715-262-8480, e-mail [email protected]t; or contact the Midwest Farm & Livestock Directory at [email protected].