Where Have All the Farmers Gone?

It has been said time and again, that the EU was made for German bankers, UK accountants and French farmers. Indeed, for more than sixty years almost 50% of EU budget (nearly 1% of the bloc’s total GDP) was spent of farm subsidies. According to this Int’l Herald Tribune piece, next year’s budget will be the first one to have spent more on growth than on farming. The prices of food in Europe were so low that EU farmers rather threw food away than sell it at lower (competitive) market prices in protest. In any case they were heavily compensated by hefty EU subsidies.

Slovene farmers protesting god-knows-what

With the sharp increase in food prices (according to this, the prices in UK could go up 30% by the end of the year, and you already know the situation in Slovenia), one would think that there would be no more farmers’ subidies. No?

Happy cow = happy farmer

So, my (rather rude) question is:

Where are all of you loud sonofabitchin’ fucks who would rather waste food than sell it at a smaller profit?!?! Are you motherfuckers happy now? Are the prices OK with you now? Do you feel that your work is adequatly compensated by me and others like me? How does my money in your pocket feel? I mean, do you realize that you get it twice? First out of my pocket directly and then in form of a subsidy which also comes out of my taxes?

I’m sorry if I’m rude (OK, I am rude), but I just don’t think that you can both have the cake and eat it. I’m OK with subsidising EU farmers if that means keeping them in business and keeping the EU reliant on its own resources. But I’m not OK when all of a sudden farmers get the long end of the stick price-wise and get to keep the subsidy.

It. Just. Ain’t. Fair.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

15 thoughts on “Where Have All the Farmers Gone?”

  1. P, are you sure your rant is directed at the right group of people? I may be wrong, but my take on this is that the farmers enjoy far from a comfortable life while the superstore chains bully the farmers and drain the end buyers’ wallets…

  2. While you may have a point with retail chains (and that may especially be the case in Slovenia), my point (perhaps clouded in swear-words) is that you just can’t have both higher prices and continous subsidies. Besides – EU farmers are not your average Slovenian farmers with two cows, five chickens and 500 sq. metrer of land to farm, but are more like enterpreneurs, calculating revenue per acre, negotiating wholesale price of milk and stuff like that.

  3. It seems to me that the problem is simply bad policy. The farmers wanted protection and assurances for the down times, and they got them but now they are just getting cream on the top during the good times and a bunch of lobbyists are probably getting nice little bonuses. Farm subsidies (particularly corn) have been blamed as one of the main causes of the American obesity problem, and the problems of obesity (especially when it comes to health care) are well-known to most everyone. If anyone would stop to think long term, they would see that subsidies are a losing game.

    I am no economist so I don’t understand why the global financial policy fat cats are screaming free market! trade trade trade! and promoting the decimation of countless self-sufficient agricultural economies in developing countries while at the same time western governments are still allowed to maintain farm subsidation policy. How can people be expected to trade in a market where the prices are unbeatable? I don’t understand whether these policies are in place because the government wants to ensure that the people can eat or for some other (less noble) reasons. I am leaning towards the less noble…

    Anyway, I guess I have a lot of reading to do on this matter….I’m starting here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_subsidies

  4. Aye! There’s the rub… I firmly believe that EU farmers are on the “fat cats” side. EU preaches fair trade to Latin America, China and Africa, but when its farmers cry “wolf!” it rushes to protect them. Which is all fine and dandy, except that (as you put so nicely) now, when they are protected by rising prices they still enjoy the (now unnecessary) protection from cheaper-food-producing countries.

  5. Doubtable subsidies might have trained farmers to have some unrealistic excpectances. As far as I can remember, there were already tons of butter nobody needed and the problem was what to do with it. If the government pays one to produce butter one might try to produce huge amounts of it, just because the government pays it. When such a senseless support is stopped, the cry is loud. Don’t say something like “too short-sighted to reckognise a ptifall beforehand” – you might have a pitchfork up yours for that 😉

    Hey – in Svabia we say: “As long as farmers are still complaining, they’re fine” 🙂

  6. Some (not all) of them are such bright minds that they have two arguments:
    a) It has always been that way.
    b) You want some, bastard?

  7. “I firmly believe that EU farmers are on the “fat cats” side. EU preaches fair trade to Latin America, China and Africa, but when its farmers cry “wolf!””

    Exactly that was cause for a row last year about the export of agricultural produce from Latin America to the EU. European farmers – France as usual at the head of the queue – protested en masse that they would lose their subsidies.
    On the other hand, modern day farmers here in Belgium are being forced into expansion or go bust. They have to play the game along with the big corporations or get out. But they, too, have a strong union that will cry wolf for them. And what they say in Svabia is true here as well… 😉

  8. The Dutch are famous for their agriculture (greenhouse) here. But people say that water exists in four states of aggregation: ice, liquid, gaseous and Dutch tomatoes 😈

  9. @Dietmar : I wouldn’t know, Belgium hasn’t been part of Holland since 1830, and that includes their tomatoes… 😈

  10. I don’t think you’re actually angry at farmers. The small handful who get to set prices, earn big (or often, any) profit, and influence policies negatively aren’t farmers. They’re agribusiness managers and conglomerates. Farming is a harsh flipping business, and I can guarantee you that 90% of farmers aren’t rolling around on a large mountain of cash stashed in the barn, laughing maniacally. They’re more likely out there, sitting on a hay bale having a good cry because the rain came before the hay was all brought in and they just lost 8000 euros on the crop, despite pulling fourteen hour days. Don’t ask me how I know that last bit.

  11. Perhaps I was not specific enough (it happens, when I get angry about something). I am angry about those farmers who are making hefty profits and keep getting the subsidies. I’m also angry at EU budget-makers who don’t have the guts to change this policy.

    I think both should be hanging by their balls off a lamp-post in downtown Brussels….

  12. I do know what you mean in a way…our CDN dollar is now at par (and actually surpassed the american dollar last week for a few hours) and yet, despite the fact that we have had a strong dollar for more than a year, we still have to pay as much as or more than 1.5 times what americans do for the same goods. Retailers in Canada are raking it in, and sometimes (as in the case of the car dealerships) are actually trying to stop people from cross-border shopping. Fuckers!

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