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Re: SG-W:/ farm subsidies



I'm not sure if this list limits posting articles. But people should be
very careful about posting copyrighted articles in their entirety on an
archived e-mail list. It could very well be a violation of copyright law.
The safe and legal way to do this is to provide a link to the article and
even a short summary should be OK.  Otherwise, you place yourself and the
list in jeopardy of being found in violation of copyright law.

Andrew Mutch
Novi

On Thu, 27 Dec 2001 Rober98@aol.com wrote:

> Here's a New York Times article on reaction to the farm subsidies online 
> database: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/27/national/27FARM.html 
> 
> Here's the text:
> 
> >> December 27, 2001
> NATIONAL
> Farmers Abashed, or Irate, Over Subsidy List
> By ELIZABETH BECKER
>  
> PERU, Ill., Dec. 21 — With their fields resting under a thin layer of frost 
> and their tractors put away for the winter, farmers have time to sit around 
> coffee shops and fume over having their most private secrets spread across 
> the newspaper for everyone to talk about.
> 
> "It was like being outed," said Keith R. Bolin, a grain and hog farmer from 
> Sheffield, who received $130,343 in farm subsidy payments from the federal 
> government over five years. "But to be honest with you, I don't mind. It was 
> a wake-up call, making us look like we're not all that different from the 
> welfare mothers in Chicago."
> 
> The newly published secrets fueling the farmers' talk of rage and 
> recrimination here and across rural America come from a Web site that has 
> made public for the first time every farm subsidy payment received by every 
> farmer since 1996. 
> 
> That means everyone — farmer and city dweller alike — now knows exactly how 
> dependent on the government farmers have become since the Freedom to Farm Act 
> of 1996 and how the most dependent are the top 10 percent or 20 percent who 
> receive a disproportionately large share of the subsidies. Nationally, farm 
> subsidies total about $20 billion a year. 
> 
> For rural communities, the list has caused embarrassment and some jealousy. 
> 
> "This Web site isn't going to help us much," said Randy Michelini, a Grand 
> Ridge corn farmer who received $28,890 over five years. "It will be used as 
> ammunition against farmers. Now a lot of farmers feel violated, and some just 
> feel plain jealous." 
> 
> The men here and at other coffee stops on Interstate 80 said it was one thing 
> for them to know that the government checks were often the only thing keeping 
> them from having to give up and move off the land. It was another to see the 
> awkwardly large subsidies printed in the community newspaper.
> 
> "I don't like people knowing my business, but to be a viable farmer you have 
> to have government support — especially since crop prices went so flat," said 
> John Dollinger, a fifth-generation Minooka farmer whose family came from 
> Germany in the early 19th century and has raised corn on the same land ever 
> since. 
> 
> Mr. Dollinger, who received $362,068 over five years, said, "If you're not a 
> farmer, you don't understand our business and how bad prices have been the 
> last five years."
> 
> After the anger comes the inevitable reflection about how farming has changed 
> during those five years. Small family farmers are being driven out by flat 
> grain prices, kept artificially low in part by government subsidies that 
> encourage overproduction. The more acres of grain or cotton a farmer owns, 
> the bigger the subsidy. The subsidy programs also help ensure that when 
> prices are low, the government will help make up the difference.
> 
> At current prices, it costs a farmer as much as 50 cents more to raise a 
> bushel of corn than he receives on the market. The biggest winners, many 
> farmers say, are the huge grain companies that buy inexpensive corn 
> subsidized by the taxpayer and then process and sell it at a profit.
> 
> Michael Veit of La Salle, another farmer drinking coffee with Mr. Dollinger 
> at the RPlace restaurant outside Morris, Ill., said he felt strange talking 
> about how much he received from the government — more than $210,000 over five 
> years. But Mr. Veit said that if he had to talk about the subsidies, he also 
> wanted the taxpayer to know that corn prices had been so low that he had to 
> take a second job driving a truck.
> 
> "I sure wish I had that $210,000 in my bank account, but it all went to pay 
> my bills," Mr. Veit said. "These farm programs are driving a lot of smaller 
> farmers right out of business, pushing the crop prices down and the rents for 
> land up."
> 
> Should anyone doubt those claims, all they need do is read local newspapers 
> like The Ottawa Daily Times, The Bureau County Republican or The Morris Daily 
> Herald to see how their big neighbors have expanded their farms, thanks to 
> subsidy payments that are often 10 times what they have been receiving.
> 
> "It explains a lot," said Rod Thorson, a Republican candidate for the 
> Illinois Senate and a local farm radio broadcaster. "You can see from the 
> payment lists how the rich farmers can afford to buy up the small ones like 
> cannibals, all subsidized by the government."
> 
> Here in La Salle County, that disparity means that while more than 4,000 
> farmers received a total of $136 million in subsidies, the top two farms got 
> more than $1 million apiece and everyone else in the top 20 received at least 
> $300,000, leaving very little for the bottom of the list.
> 
> The data for the country was retrieved by the Environmental Working Group 
> through the Freedom of Information Act and then put on a Web site, 
> www.ewg.org. The nonprofit group hopes the information will lead to limits on 
> subsidies and more financing for conservation programs for farmers.
> 
> Since it became public, the Web site has received more than 11 million hits 
> and inspired rural newspapers to publish lists of the top — and in some cases 
> the bottom — recipients, causing initial embarrassment and then a wave of 
> curiosity as farmers log on to find their names.
> 
> "We've had farmers call and tell us they didn't know how much their tenants 
> were receiving in subsidies until they saw the Web site, and now they want to 
> renegotiate their contracts," said Ken Cook, the head of Environmental 
> Working Group.
> 
> It has also touched off a debate in Congress, where lawmakers are deadlocked 
> over how to change farm policy. Farm-state lawmakers said they would canvass 
> their constituents over the holiday recess to see whether the knowledge of 
> who gets what size of subsidy has fueled support for greater changes to farm 
> policy, like limiting subsidies or restructuring the program entirely. 
> 
> Mr. Thorson, the host of two daily farm radio programs, said he took a 
> telephone poll to gauge farmer sentiment before he went on the air a few 
> weeks ago and read the names of the top recipients.
> 
> "I got about 40 phone calls, and only one of them said he didn't want to hear 
> his name read," Mr. Thorson said.
> 
> Since then, farmers have taped the newspaper lists to the dashboards of their 
> trucks and stuck them on their refrigerator doors as a reminder of who is 
> profiting from the dismal state of agriculture.
> 
> Don J. Schiff, an officer of the Union Bank in Princeton, Ill., said the 
> public list had made farmers jumpy. 
> 
> "This Web site has had a furious impact," Mr. Schiff said. "Now the public 
> knows what we bankers have known for a long time: that farmers have lost 
> their freedom. It's as plain as the nose on the end of your face." 
> 
> Everyone around the cafe table agreed that the only question was how much 
> longer the taxpayer would subsidize a system that was helping everyone but 
> the small family farmer it was intended to save.
> 
> "Not more than 10 years is my guess," Mr. Schiff said. "Then I wonder what 
> will be left out here."  <<
> 
> 
> 
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