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Limited government will test our mettle as farmer-citizens

You’re hanging by your fingernails from the side of a building, with somebody pushing you real hard to let go. Problem is, you aren’t exactly sure what floor you’re hanging from. If it’s close to the ground, the drop may be nothing and make you wonder why you hung on so long. But if it’s a prolonged plunge from up high, things could get a little bloody.

I’m sure cotton producers are feeling a similar vertigo at the thought of losing a big portion of their farm safety net. And it’s looking more and more like dramatic changes in the long-standing program are ahead.

In a statement released in August, the National Cotton Council noted that the combination of the marketing loan, direct payments and counter-cyclical payments, as structured in the 2008 farm bill, “has served the cotton industry extraordinarily well and, in recent years, has required minimal federal outlays.”

The NCC acknowledged that future deficit reduction efforts “will place unprecedented pressure on the existing structure.”

The NCC is recommending an adjustment to the current program by making an affordable revenue-based crop insurance program available for purchase. The program “would provide an effective tool for growers to manage that portion of their risks for which affordable options are not currently available.”

I think Congress should also consider rewarding the contribution that all farmers make toward conservation. It should also remove excessive environmental regulations that put farmers at a disadvantage to foreign producers. And while they’re at it, make sure our producers have a level playing field in global trade. In other words, make sure our farmers are given a fighting chance.

One reason why agriculture is not playing up traditional farm programs is because the current debt debate is bigger than agriculture, or for that matter, any single component of government spending.

Today’s discussion is about limited government, a worthy cause. But we shouldn’t forget that since the 1930s, federal programs have been gradual, but powerful forces shaping industry and molding society. If government’s role is indeed unwound from our lives, we will have to re-forge the way we live them.

In today’s debate, every institution is under scrutiny, even Social Security, which is projected to run dry in 2037.When Texas governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perrywas criticized for characterizing it as aPonzi scheme recently, he replied, “Maybe it’s time to have some provocative language in this country.”

I’m thinking the gloves are officially off now.

I do think that limited government is a proper tonic. But deep reductions too soon, too fast, could also cause ripples and tears in the fabric of society that few of us could have imagined.

Just the loss of Social Security would find many of us working long past a respectable retirement and/or saving more money during our working years. We may even need to make room for an elderly parent or two. Limited government could severely test our mettle as farmers and as citizens.



TAGS: Legislative
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