Farm Subsidies, Price Floors & Daryll Ray

Corn_with_dollars If you remember back to the last farm bill reform activities, you may even remember Daryll Ray and his analysis around subsidies. Well, myths around subsidies being the root of all evil in the farming system persist even among groups such as Bread for the World. Granted the issue can seem complex and it’s easier to mimic what others say (I certainly confess to this sin), but Professor Ray has done a great job of explaining the real story. Thanks to Presbyterian farmer and advisor, Brad Wilson, we have resources on this topic below at the tip of your fingers. Thank you Brad!

And if you wish to learn from and join with Presbyterians discussing (and acting on!) similar topics, such as how folks are overhauling the food system with local and regional faith-based initiatives, you are welcome to join the PCUSA Food and Faith Groupsite. Just sign up to join and you’ll soon be part of this growing group of Awesome Agrarian Allies!

Daryll Ray of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee has written many excellent materials on the farm bill, price floors, (“price supports,”) farm subsidies, supply management, and related topics.

Ray’s best summary of the topic is probably the Executive Summary to his (et al) 2003 report:  “ Rethinking US Agricultural Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide.”

For more detail you can then read relevant sections (or all) of the full report.  The accompanying presentation (about 35 slides, ppt/pdf) is also very helpful.

Ray has written nearly a dozen years worth of weekly policy columns on farm bill issues, (1-2 pages each) plus an “Archived Series” of earlier columns.  I’ve selected and linked some of the key columns in two of my content boxes at zspace .  Scroll down to “Farm Bill Primer” and also  “Food Crisis Primer,” (which is also about the farm bill).  Look for “APAC” in the links to find the materials from Daryll Ray.  There are also many other excellent materials there, by the other leading farm bill justice advocates (ie. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Food and Water Watch, Tim Wise of the Global Development and Environment program at Tufts University).  There is also a list of my blogs (“Most Recent Content,” etc.,) which specifically fill in some of the missing pieces, and address food movement issues.

Legislative proposals to address these concerns include the Food from Family Farms Act of the National Family Farm Coalition, (and see a series of 3 short videos of earlier proposals starting here,) the Harkin-Gephardt Farm Bill of the 1980s and 1990s, (see a 1980s video slide show here) and Daryll Ray’s proposal in the report cited above (p. 43+ of the report; Ray discusses price supports on pp. 16, 44, 46, etc. of the report, but not much in his columns).

Let us know what you think about any of this, for example, by commenting on this.