Farmers Bear the Cost of Artificially Low Food Prices

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Wisconsin Christian News:

   I very much appreciate your newspaper and rely on it to provide information about current issues linked to living a life of obedience to Christ.  The article in Volume 18, Issue 4 by Pete Hendrickson, “What Is Paid For by the Ignorance Tax,” however, caused me to take notice.  I am a Kansas wheat farmer and have forty years of firsthand experience in farming.  While I agree with most of the points made about income tax, one point illustrated very well how peoples’ ignorance can cause misconceptions.

   One of the things made possible by the ignorance tax, according to Mr. Hendrickson, is “agricultural price supports raising the cost of our food.”  I’d like to clear up some of the misconceptions.

   The statement by Mr. Hendrickson is backwards.  Support payments to farmers are made because we in the USA have a cheap food policy.  Check it out.  In what other country can middle income households use only 13% of their income on food?  Farmers are often expectd to produce and sell at prices below the cost of production.  This is the case now and has been for the last two years.  In order for this policy to continue, and for food to continue being produced at such low prices, the government payments are provided to “lure” farmers into staying in business just “one more year.”  The payments usually do not cover the losses, but with ingenuity, farmers keep producing, often with jobs off the farm, while the farming has to be done when most people are sleeping.

   Some other facts are pertinent to this issue:  of the United States Dept of Agriculture (USDA) budget, 79.1% is used to supply food stamps, while farmers receive only 4.6%.  USDA’s total budget accounts for only 2% of all federal spending.  The last farm bill cut payments to farmers by 32%, while food stamps were cut by less than 1%.

   Farmers receive only 11.6% of your food dollar (only 3.4% when you eat out) while the other 88.4% goes for processing, packaging and transportation.  There is only 5.9 cents worth of wheat in a loaf of bread.

   The fact is that Agricultural Program payments do not raise food prices, but actually serve to keep them low.
-Ron Stucky, Inman, KS

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