The United States agriculture business is booming. While the agriculture industry only employs around 1% of the U.S. population, agriculture contributes to 5% of the U.S. GDP, bringing in $992 BILLION in 2015. America is the world's largest producer of corn, as well as a top producer of wheat, potatoes, sugarcane, rice, and livestock.
The median salary in the agriculture is $66,360, $14,421 higher than the national median salary. Despite this, if you just looked at the amount of money that the government spends on farm subsidies, you would think that the industry was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Farm subsidies were introduced by Franklin Roosevelt during the height of the Great Depression to ensure that farmers had a steady supply of income while the United States also had a steady domestic food supply. However, over time, farm subsidies have caused too many economic issues and need to be disbanded as they currently exist.
For one, America spends A LOT on farm subsidies. Congress dolls out nearly $25 billion in farm subsidies out a year, and where does this money go? The CATO Institute reports that the largest 15 percent of farm businesses received 85 percent of the farm subsidies dispensed by Congress.
The rhetoric that farm subsidies are going towards small farmers to save them from a dying industry is simply not true; it is going towards the already successful farmers that are already exploiting the system to ensure that more subsidies are being directed towards them.
Not only are subsidies going towards the already successful farmers, but it is also giving incentive for farmers to stop innovating and to make agriculture worse for the common Americans. As political blogger Chris Edwards says, "Subsidies inflate land prices in rural America. And the flow of subsidies from Washington hinders farmers from innovating, cutting costs, diversifying their land use, and taking the actions needed to prosper in a competitive global economy."
Specific crops being subsidized continue the cycle of monoculture that destroys soil and degrade the future possibilities of agriculture for the ecosystems of the subsidized areas.
Furthermore, the American government subsidizing certain crops creates a clear level of hypocrisy. Federal tax dollars are being spent to subsidize both tobacco farms and corn farms that turn corn into high-fructose corn syrup. We spend millions of dollars on public anti-smoking campaigns and informing the public about the dangers of high-fructose corn syrup, and then we place excise taxes on tobacco and products with high-fructose corn syrup. Then, we send some of those tax dollars off to subsidize farms that are creating the products that we are campaigning against. Does that seem like a fair and logical system?
Finally, American farm subsidies are destroying the agriculture industries of developing and poorer countries. While being subsidized, American farmers can sell their goods on the international marketplace artificially below market value. Because of this, international farmers are unable to compete and this destroys the worldwide agricultural marketplace. With the economies of so many developing nations reliant on agriculture, U.S. farm subsidies artificially cause their goods to be non-competitive on a world stage and destroy the economies that these developing nations need to better the economy.
One of the largest arguments against free trade is that the subsidies and low-wages of other countries give them an unfair advantage on the world stage, and yet we do that exact thing here in the states.
Clearly, it is time to end farm subsidies. Groups from both sides of the political aisle find the flaws in the system, and it is time to start letting their voices rise to the top. Farm subsidies are hypocritical, damaging to the domestic and global economy, wreak havoc on ecosystems, and marginally benefit primarily wealthy farmers that do not need any further assistance. It is time we grow past this policy of the past to make sure that we provide a better for the future for all. Not just for the sake of our domestic agricultural sector, but for global agriculture as a whole.