Let free enterprise flow freely – no government payments of any kind, to anybody for any reason.

Let supply and demand/profit and loss set the market. Government intervention simply messes up these natural market forces and allows the dubious manipulation to reap the fruits of the harvest; leaving those who have worked from sunup to sundown with the spoils of a broken and corrupt system.

Agriculture has probably produced more millionaires than any other enterprise, but it is seldom in the hands of he who holds the pitchfork and shovel. Farmers may farm the land and feed the livestock, but they answer to a higher power; usually that of a corporate entity for whom there has been little or no association.

None of this would have happened if the government had kept its sticky fingers out of the pot. Farming would still be a way of life, employing multiple generations, self-supporting, and living within its means. It wasn’t until landowners started getting paid for doing nothing and receiving subsidies of greater value than that of the commodities they were supporting.

That took all the risk out of farming; promising a higher return on investment than that of most investment portfolios.

The only good part of this scenario is that it should provoke US lawmakers to get serious and reform federal farm policies. Gridlock and inaction in Washington might just unwittingly provide the opportunity for a wholesale rethinking of business as usual on the farm.

Last summer Congress failed to approve a proposed five year renewal of the farm bill, which will affect all legislation that governs agriculture policy as well as the food stamp program. It’s unfortunate that dependency of mutual interest should pit the success of agriculture against the poor of this country.

The farm bill proposals from both the republicans and the democrats were atrocious. They embraced the market-distorting giveaways that would expand subsidized crop insurance to grotesque proportions. The effect would be to encourage over-planting on marginal land and other reckless practices, none of which would be beneficial to livestock producers.

Does any of this make any sense – considering that it would pointlessly line the pockets of insurance companies and their agents by adding billions of dollars in unnecessary coverage?

Fortunately, our do nothing Congress adjourned without taking any definite action, that calamity got diverted. If they would just continue to keep their fingers out of the mix, farmers would do just fine. But government seem to justify its existence by messing things up.

The current farm bill, enacted in 2008, formally expired on Sept 30, 2012. However most policies remain in effect, which begs the question — will the results of this election change the debate in Washington?

Perhaps the biggest bondage from the aisles of Congress was the enactment of the Federal Renewable Fuel Standard that diverts a huge amount of corn into gasoline tanks. It’s unconscionable to take food off the table at the expense of prosperity. It is simply time to eliminate farm subsidies that shower taxpayer money on farmers, land owners, crop insurance companies, and their favored constituents who have prospered needlessly in recent years.

We should be ashamed of ourselves for wallowing in excessive prosperity, while most other Americans endured economic hardships.

If this isn’t reason enough to take the bull by the horns, considering the fact agricultural products are among America’s biggest exports – it is critical to ensure that the nation remains a stable, reliable supplier to its customers overseas. Federal policies that subsidize row-crop production act as a form of protectionism, or more politically pointed, a kind of cronyism.

It is here where the lines of politics and policy get blurred, as they shield the ag industry from market forces that would otherwise be normal for any other industry. In the long run they do more harm than good, as they open the door to self-defeating/self-serving schemes that are counterproductive to the primary roles of agriculture.

CASE IN POINT: Ethanol production has nothing to do with serving either the American farmer or consumer.

It was a concocted scheme that required more government intervention and a self-serving bureaucracy to implement. There was no concern for the effect it would have on food prices or adverse effect on gas production. When the cost of production is higher than the reasonable value of the end product, it was obviously a project of self-serving greed.

For these reasons, it’s doomed to fail, but as usual, at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Combine the intrusion of ethanol with a drought-limited corn crop, and the net result is a catastrophe for the meat and livestock industry.

So, let’s take the bull by the horns and develop policies that encourage freedom of production without government interference. The market should have the greater opportunity to shape world supply and demand, without government intervention.

Just as free trade and independence at the farm level make for greater efficiency, freedom of market forces will level the playing field.

There is no doubt that US farmers would do better – not worse – if freed from the red tape, handouts, and current policies that have plagued agriculture for far too many years.

It’s time to take the bull by the horns.