Friday, October 03, 2008

Thank You New Farm Bill...

Sorry for another late post... I just wanted to take a moment this morning to say thank you to the United States Government, the taxpaying people of America, and all those who worked so hard on the 2008 Farm Bill. It is really wonderful to have people so concerned about the agricultural community in the United States that they find a place in their wallet for us lowly farmers ... errr ... landowners. I mean I can't believe how gracious everyone is to find some spare change for little ol' me!

**end of sarcasm**

Really, I don't know all of the ins and outs of the 2008 Farm Bill, but there are plenty of interesting things that I'm learning about now that I'm a landowner. For example we recently received a call from the FSA office in our county telling us that we had until September 30th to sign-up for our crop base under some new provisions in the new Farm Bill.

The long and short of it is that because we own 40 acres of land (26 acres of which are "tillable") we are entitled to some money. $313 to be exact for our corn base, soybean base, and wheat base. We have 14 acres (I believe) included in our base so it works out to roughly $22.36 per acre of the base. And to top it all off we don't have to do anything to receive that money. We don't have to plant crops, we don't have to have a management plan, and we don't have to have them inspect it. All we have to do is own it.

So, why didn't I turn it down? I would like to think that I would turn it down on principle ... and maybe at some point I will, but for now we took the payment because of the future sales. Although the base isn't important to us it could possibly be important to someone down the road if we had to sell and then it could make a difference.

It is an interesting provision in though...

6 comments:

Art Blomquist said...

Governments don't have any money. They just re-distribute ours. With the coming recession ( or worse ) that farm your building is going to be worth a lot more than 23$ and acre to you and your family. Keep up the good work and remember to stop and smell the cow poo.

Everett said...

Sometimes I have to wonder what the people in Washington are smoking when they make these bills. All of the pork that they've managed to stuff into this "bail out" package for banks is making me sick to my stomach. And the idea that my tax dollars would go to farmers who don't farm is raising my blood pressure.

Randy said...

Ethan,
Do I understand that the government is interested in keeping good Mid-West farmland still able to be planted in crops to feed us? If so, that's actually somewhat smart on the government's side. Now, I don't know about the financial incentive, $23/ac wouldn't do much around here in Central FL, I don't know about land cost in Iowa. Around here, a developer could put maybe 5 lots, plus the roads and drainage structures on an acre, selling the lots for maybe $50,000 or $250,000/ac income. I assure you that the ROI on that would be a lot more than 0.01% (not that I want the government paying out $100,000/ac for you not to farm, either :).

Ethan Book said...

Randy, I don't believe it is as simple as that... It is a pretty complex issue and it goes back quite far. One thing to think about is the lay of my land. I have 26 acres that aren't covered with trees, but if you were to plant that into row crops you would have a soil erosion festival ... and if you were to terrace it, well you wouldn't have much stuff left. The question then becomes why is this money available even if there aren't any crops planted there?

Or something along those lines.

I guess the question is why is it the governments job to keep land in crops instead of the supply and demand economies job to keep it in crops. I'm no economist by any means, but if there was money to be had because people needed food (which they do) than it would stay in crops. Areas like where my farm is won't be developed for housing because they are too far away from anything else... at least for now :)

Mike W. said...

I have tried to stay away from the FSA as much as possible. Unfortunately, the farm I bought last year was already entangled in CRP. Oh, the paperwork!

Liriodendron said...

Well put, Ethan.

I know I'm commenting late on this post, but I'm wondering if you have more information re: the history of agricultural and food regulations in this country -- say, going back to the first farm bills. I'd be exceedingly interested in any research in this area.

Meanwhile, check out my latest blog post. I linked you in a piece I wrote about a new activist organization I plan to start. We will make principled arguments for a truly free market in agriculture and food (which will include direct farm to consumer sales without regulation).

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