The 21st Century Version of Killing Piglets: No Carbon

From Burton Folsom, “New Deal or Raw Deal?” Page 67: “In 1933, the U.S. was plowing under 10 million acres of cotton and killing 6 million piglets; in 1935, the U.S. was importing 36 million (bales) of cotton and 2 million pounds of ham and bacon.”

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was on NPR’s Morning Edition Monday, interviewed by Steve Inskeep. The Secretary sure sounds like federal government’s new priority for farmers is that they not produce carbon. Excerpt:

VILSACK: The notion of subsidies is a complex one. We have in place support structures and safety nets that allow farmers to ride out difficult times, so the challenge is to figure out a way in which you can continue to have reasonably priced food and at the same time prosperous farms, and that’s where I think energy and climate change comes back into play. Because you can foresee a future in which farmers are paid for reducing our carbon footprint, much in the same way that we’re currently paying them for conservation.

We’re concerned about water quality, we’re concerned about preserving the soil, and so we’re willing to pay people to do things on their land that would be helpful not just to them, but to us.

INSKEEP: Are you saying you would want maybe some day to pay farmers for doing fertilizer-free farming, or putting up a windmill that generates electricity in a renewable way, that sort of thing?

VILSACK: There are a whole host of things, but I think it would be tied to the whole notion of offsets.

INSKEEP: Somewhere there’s a dirty coal-fired power plant that’s polluting too much, and under this system, you would envision, the plant might pay a farmer to be storing carbon or doing something that’s cleaner, and the farmer would be making money that way.

VILSACK: It’s that or there’s some kind of central distribution system that basically sells these offsets and contracts for the farmers for them. The structure is essentially as you’ve outlined. Eventually the farmer gets benefited for doing what is right for the country as a whole and for the globe as a whole, which is to reduce the carbon footprint.

That’s quite a vision for federal farm policy: A centralized government system that distributes taxpayers’ dollar to farmers based on their NOT producing carbon dioxide.

Join the discussion One Comment

Leave a Reply