Big Ag’s friends in Congress are no dummies. Even they sense that farm subsidies are distinctly on the nose in these straightened fiscal times. So they are wheeling out that old chestnut about farm subsidies being essential for “national security.” With a dash of social harmony thrown in for good measure. From the Brownfield site yesterday:
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, [Senator Charles Grassley, R, IA] said a farm bill won’t happen if the legislation is put only in the context of a subsidy to farmers. “We have to start talking in terms of a sure supply of food to make sure that we have social peace in our country,” said Grassley, during the conference call. It is also important for people to know that food is a national security issue, said Grassley, because “an army marches on its stomach.” “All you have to do is look at Germany and Japan,” he added. “Why do they protect their farmers? Because they found out during World War II that if you don’t have food, you can’t fight; and so they’re very protective of their farmers for national defense.” [emphasis added]
Don’t buy what these folks are selling, America. Appeals to national defense are often the third-to-last refuge of the scoundrel (the last being patriotism and the second-to-last “for the children”) and in any case are a red herring when it comes to farm subsidies. No one is going to starve in this country if we get rid of farm subsidies. The Germans and Japanese subsidize their farmers for the same reason we do: because they’re a powerful political force. And as for claims that farm subsidies preserve “social peace”? What absolute rot. Favoring special interests at others’ expense fuels resentment and undermines social harmony.