October 23, 2014
Our View: An Apology Would Be Nice

When commodity prices were strong, farm incomes were up, and the agricultural sector was credited with helping offset some of the economic misery caused by the housing crisis, not too many people seemed happy for America's farmers.
 
Quite the opposite. A lot of folks used the positive economic situation to attack agriculture and farm policy.
 
Corn prices are up: Must be ethanol's fault. Farm economy is strong and generating jobs: A perfect time to gut farm spending and weaken the Farm Bill.
 
Thankfully, lawmakers were smart enough to see through these shallow attempts to score cheap political points. They knew that Farm Bills are written for the bad times, not the good, and that commodity prices inevitably come back down as do farm incomes.
 
And boy, were they right. As a recent article by Bloomberg points out:
"World food prices fell for a sixth month in September, the longest slide since 2009, as the cost of dairy, grains, cooking oils and sugar declined amid prospects for rising production...
 
"Soybeans and corn are trading near the lowest in four years in Chicago amid an outlook for record U.S. harvests. In the past two years, all agricultural products on the Bloomberg Commodity Index other than cattle, hogs and coffee have declined, with the slide led by corn, wheat and soybeans."
So does that mean Big Oil, grocers, and other ethanol opponents will now apologize for their hyped-up claims that food prices would continue to sour as long as the U.S. invests in and supports this homegrown fuel source?
 
Or will EWG and extremist think tanks recant on their discredited claims about crop insurance and other farm policies?
 
Under their line of thinking spending on those policies was unnecessary because farm incomes were up, so as incomes fall, spending should be more than justified.
 
Don't count on it.
 
Farm policy critics are like chameleons and will change their stories to fit whatever situation they find themselves in. After all, it's how they make a living.
 
In fact, the last time commodity prices were this low, many of these same groups criticized farm policy for depressing prices and harming farmers in developing countries.
 
Check out this article about their messaging yo-yo way back in 2010.
 
Yes, an apology would be nice now that critics’ main talking points in the 2014 Farm Bill debate have been shattered, but it is highly unlikely. Instead we'd settle for the nonsensical attacks to cease and perhaps a little less flip-flopping in the future.


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