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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

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
> Farmers Abashed, or Irate, Over Subsidy List
> 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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