The Ag worker bill is farm subsidies at its best

By: Carolyn Hileman

When you think of farm subsidies, you think of Willie Nelson and the farm aid concerts or those poor families being kicked off their farms because they can no longer pay the mortgage. You don’t necessarily think of Pilgrims Pride, a chicken processing plant as getting farm subsidies. You would be wrong since they get $26,461,206.

If you recognize that name perhaps it is because they were just in the news for laying off illegal immigrants. Legislators promoting subsidies take advantage of the popular misconception that farm subsidies exist to stabilize the incomes of poor family farmers who are at the mercy of unpredictable weather and crop prices. If that were the case, the federal government could bring the income of every full-time farmer in America up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level ($32,652 for a family of four in 2001) for just $4 billion per year.

However, the government spends nearly $20 billion annually on programs that target large farms and agribusinesses. Eligibility for farm subsidies is determined not by income or poverty standards but by the crop that is grown. Growers of corn, wheat, cotton, soybeans, and rice receive more than 90 percent of all farm subsidies. While growers of most of the 400 other domestic crops are completely shut out of farm subsidy programs. Further skewing these awards, the amounts of subsidies increase as a farmer plants more crops. Now it seems our government wishes to further expand the program using a part of the grand compromise bill the American people killed. You see they are diligently working to bring this and other parts of that bill back to life, even though the American people have already given them a resounding no. The Ag worker bill is nothing more than the amnesty portion of this bill that we fought so hard to kill.

They will tell us the crops are plentiful but the laborers are few. They will tell us that if they don’t get this the prices will go up. They will tell us that this is good for us and that they are only doing for our best interest. But once again they will be lying.

The only two groups that will benefit from this bill are the illegal immigrants who can simply say they work on a farm and become legal and the farmers whom we already subsidies with our taxes and pay for what they actually produce. Now think about this for a moment, we pay our taxes which the government pays to them not to produce certain crops. That does not mean they can’t grow crops, just the ones they are being paid not to. Then once they have raised those crops we are going to pay for their workers to become legal so they can pick these crops and then we are going to pay for those crops in the stores.

Confusing if you think about it, but the truth, we will be subsidizing our self to death so we can buy their products while all the while they snub their noses at the American workers. You and I both know that if they paid a livable wage they would have people beating down their doors looking for work. Instead, they will not have to offer competitive wages, they will not have to do anything other than collect our tax dollars, pay the illegal immigrant under the table and then collect our money at the stores, anybody want to buy a farm? Most of us are more than willing to help out the small family farmer who really needs the help but the big corporations who already get our tax dollars are now demanding we allow them low skilled under paid laborers so they won’t have to raise our prices?

Now I am just about willing to bet that there are people out there who would gladly pick fruit and vegetables if they were at least paid a decent wage, I am betting college students would love that opportunity to help pay for college. For years jobs such as this and factory jobs have been the mainstay of small town America for those people who couldn’t afford to go to college or did not finish high school. Factory and fields were once filled with people that did not have the best education, now I may be wrong but I do not think that every American worker is college educated and would refuse to work these jobs I think it is more likely that they were pushed out of these jobs by people who were willing to work for less and business people who saw a way to keep a few more dollars of their profits. The Ag workers bill will virtually assure that these jobs will no longer be open to the American workers and once it is passed you can look for even more parts of that bill to be passed and even more of the American workers to be affected. It is not about the American worker or tax payer anymore it is about what the big farms and industry wants and the Ag worker bill is farm subsidies at its best

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About The Author Carolyn Hileman:
The Voice

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