• Last modified 1797 days ago (Aug. 22, 2019)



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Who’s subsidized?

To the editor:

In his letter last week, why does Gary Diepenbrock resort to confusing labels when addressing the issue of USDA farm subsidies?

Just what does he mean when stating that Klassen Farms and Todd Heitschmidt are “givers” when I am relegated to being a “receiver”?

I lived in Marion County from 1961 until 2011 (with 10 years absence for college, travel and Peace Corps volunteer service). In 1978, my wife and I purchased a small farm that we lived on for 32 years.

We lived modestly and paid the farm off in six years. We were able to provide 100% of our heating needs from our woods and produced an average of 70% of our food.

Working in town in addition to farming, I still managed to do a fair amount of volunteer work in the community. I am a lifelong taxpayer.

Both sets of my grandparents were farmers on adjoining farms in Hickory County Missouri. Much of what I practiced on my farm and financial life were learned from my grandfathers and parents, who endured the Great Depression and World War II.

To my knowledge neither of my grandfathers ever took an agricultural subsidy but managed to support their families, retire relatively comfortably, and in the case of my maternal grandparents, leave a sizable estate.

What is going on for the last 25 years with the profitability of agriculture?

Farms getting larger, technologically advanced farm machinery, GMO seeds, and pesticides virtually eliminated in-row cultivation. Still we have commodity subsidies from the USDA to ever-larger farms valued at millions of dollars.

The grain business in the U.S. is dominated by five major companies. The top three — Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, and Cargill — are very profitable companies that I would argue are the true beneficiaries of the ag subsidy scheme.

They get to buy grain at or below production costs and taxpayers underwrite payments to barely make up the shortfall to the farmer so he can go out and do it again next year.

Some have said that this scenario is the definition of insanity.

Diepenbrock asked, “What planet is he from?” Well, Gary, I am from the planet Earth, a planet unique in the solar system for its ability to sustain life with an atmosphere and water and soil that results in a biome.

But all is not well on this planet as we pass 7.7 billion human inhabitants.

Human-generated carbon emissions are upsetting the atmospheric balance that moderates the heat of the planet. Fresh water is being polluted by chemicals and waste that is ill-handled.

We now seem to be in a spiral down of hate, distrust and labeling of our fellow occupants of this beautiful planet, Earth.

Harry E. Bennett
Madison, Wisconsin

Last modified Aug. 22, 2019