The Uncreative Indestructibility of Modern Farming

Over at the Mises Institute’s website, Dan McLaughlin highlights a little-discussed pernicious effect of U.S. farm policy: the short-circuiting of the market’s creative destruction. Just as mom-and-pop grocery stores gave way to supermarkets, which gave consumers better value and choice, so other businesses should be allowed to lose out to more efficient competitors. But during the 1930s, the federal government decided to step in to protect farmers threatened by the Great Depression. The result, a mind-boggling array of price supports and subsidies, is still with us today, as the current Farm Bill attests.

Just as mom-and-pop groceries disappeared because they were inefficient high-cost operations, inefficient farms should be allowed to follow suit. That is what happens with inefficient auto mechanics, plumbers, homebuilders, or any other field of endeavor…

A farm is a business, nothing more, nothing less. It’s reason for existence is to serve society, and the sign it is doing so is measured by its profitability.

Any business that cannot succeed without government support is unsound. It needs to change, to improve, to become more efficient, or get out of the business

The current Farm Bill is this year’s version of the same old laws that hurt consumers and take money from my pocket and yours to subsidize an industry that is now dominated by massive agribusinesses that don’t have a stitch of concern about family farmers. While there is a lot of rhetoric in the official propaganda about improving the bill, the basic foundation is built on quicksand, and no amount of reform will help it. It is enlightening to visit the USDA website (America’s Farm Bill) and read what the vested interests are saying in support of it.

This reminds me of these sanctimonious bumper stickers I used to see around a lot, that read “When you gripe about the farmer, don’t talk with your mouth full” — to which I respond, “Stop picking my pocket and then I’ll stop complaining.”