The Disease is Low Farm Prices, Not Subsidies
An editorial comment on The Federal Budget and Farm Policy
by Larry Mitchell, CEO
American Corn Growers Association

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2005óAs we edge closer to yet another date with the budget knife, production agriculture is being prepped for another amputation of even more of our critical farm, conservation, credit and rural programs. This appointment with the deficit surgeon will take place in the international surgical theater with a backdrop of pending and future World Trade Organization challenges to these same programs. Isnít it time we get a second opinion to determine what disease we should be treating?

My sister, a dear lady that has put herself through school, raised her children and nursed her disabled husband for over a decade, is closing in on yet another graduate degree. She is also social worker and runs an AIDS awareness clinic in rural Texas. Her biggest challenge is to convince AIDS victims that they will live, not to quit their jobs or run up their credit cards. In the U.S., AIDS is a serious disease, but treatable and not much unlike diabetes in that respect. If you live in the U.S., you will most likely get the medication which will allow you to live with the disease. If you live in Africa, you may not be able to afford, or may not have access to, the medication and the disease can, and too often will be, fatal.

The disease we face is not farm subsidies. The disease we face is low farm prices, here and around the world. AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Income Deficiency Syndrome. Subsidies are the critical medication. If you farm in the U.S., we can afford the medication (subsidies) and you will receive just enough to survive -- maybe. But if you live in a developing country where the medication is not affordable or not available, the disease of low prices is fatal.

No one wants to or is proud to take medications for AIDS, diabetes, cancer or any other disease. But they must if they want to survive. No U.S. farmers want to or are proud to accept subsidies. But they must take the medication of subsidies if they hope to survive.

To correct this problem, we must address the disease. We do not eliminate the medication! Eliminating the medication does not help farmers in developing countries and will make the disease of low prices fatal to farmers in the U.S. We must rethink U.S. and international Agriculture policy and change course.

To defeat the disease of low prices we need policies that improve prices in the U.S and around the world, establish adequate food reserves and address production adjustments to enhance production of crops in short supply in favor of crops in surplus.