Yesterday’s post referred to a Tribune editorial on CAFOs; the comment I posted on their site should be reprinted here because I think it frames my views nicely.
…agriculture/food is one of the more government-influenced industries in America, although not quite socialized. Commodities like corn and soy are heavily subsidized, such that their market price is well below the actual cost of production. Milk prices are not set on the open market; the price consumers pay at the store has little to do with the cost to an individual dairy. Large-scale fruit and vegetable growers in places like CA and AZ receive hugely subsidized irrigation supplies from the Feds, meaning their products are far cheaper than the actual price of production in those desert areas if they were paying market rate for their water.
CAFOs are certainly not paragons of free-market virtue, since their business model is entirely predicated on the availability of large quantities of government-subsidized cheap grains. Such operations would not be economically viable if grain subsidies did not exist, or at least they would be unable to produce meat and eggs at the low prices they do now.
Whether or not this is a good thing is a different discussion; a viable argument can be made that a cheap food supply is good for the American economy. But let’s dispense with the fantasy that cheap American food is in any way “free market” when virtually every product in a grocery depends on taxpayer money for its artificially low price. Our taxpayer dollars are directly involved in influencing and dictating the price of food and methods of agriculture used in America.
I would like to hear a member of the Tea Party explain why government intervention in health care is evil while government intervention in food supplies is desirable. To me it can only logically be one way or the other. I prefer government intervention in neither, but have little patience with those who protest health care while happily buying cheap government-backed food. My farm sells produce directly to consumers with no government involvement, the closest thing to free-market agriculture we have in this country, and I’d like to see more conservatives showing up at farmers markets to live out their principles by supporting farms like ours.