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29 days ago

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It's that time again apparently. We received our census in the mail today. We generally ignore them like most of you, seeing as how it doesn't seem to be any of the governments business (outside of the permits I need and the taxes I have to pay) how I run my business. This year, however, be forewarned of a big change. In big, bold letters, "required by law." Apparently, some new loophole allowed the USDA to get a government-authorized mandate for this census. They want to know everything from total animals to total assets to income, to products and services sold. You can bet we will be fighting this!

Fortunately, we are members of "The Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund" for just such an issue. We have already turned in our info to them, and are waiting on a call to see how our lawyer recommends we proceed. Downright maddening, either way.

In any case, be forewarned!

Klaus Karbaumer says 2017-12-18 19:26:06 (CST)



Now, I assume that most of us, including me, are not recipients of any subsidies. But most of us, who live in rural areas, somehow depend on government assistance such as support for rural hospitals or other infrastructure elements. Also, how our rural neighbors doing, for example if they receive CRP payments, influences the entire rural region( I hope no explanation for this is required here). Insofar I accept the necessity for the government to know what to expect. Rather than fight a census farmers should be fighting
asinine agricultural policies which for too long have allowed even fostered surplus production with disastrous consequences for farming communities. Unfortunately the culprits here are as much selfish farmers who have bought into the capitalistic concept of production expansion as a means of achieving higher profits without consideration of the consequences for everyone concerned as well as myopic and misguided politicians who thought higher efficiency understood as highly capitalized huge farms would lead to more food security and lower food prices. When everything is taken into consideration without externalizing the damage, food is not cheap. Back to the census: There need to be warning signals for all involved: Are dairy cows still being added to the existing herd, who adds them and where for example. As I said the policies need to be based on facts, not ideological fantasies, as they have been too long in this country and even more than ever before now . How else can press and farming associations and in general citizens hold a government accountable if they have no information, which by law the government has to share?


28 days ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

NoraWI says 2017-12-19 07:53:28 (CST)



Klaus, there is information and then there is information. The government certainly does need to know certain facts, but not other. When I bought this farm 30 years ago, the seller had just enrolled in the CRP program, probably to make the farm more salable. I re-enrolled out of habit 10 years later. At the end of that second term, the FSA informed me that I had to give them access to my tax returns if I were to continue to enroll in this steadily less paying program. When asked why they needed access, I was informed that it was to make sure I didn't earn more than a million dollars a year, which would preclude me from participation. I laughed at that. If I were earning over a million dollars annually, would I be living here and re-enrolling 30 scant acres in the CRP program? I refused to give them permission. Disenrolled in the program and repaid them the piddling amount of money they had last paid me. Government needing information, indeed! And how effective is their policing of this policy? How many really BIG farm owners (and corporate farmers) DO earn over a million dollars a year and participate in these programs by fudging ownership and distributing income among family members or corporate setups?


28 days ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Todd NE WY says 2017-12-19 10:45:08 (CST)



Klaus,

I tend to agree with you on this. Another important thing to remember is there is very little information out there that is truly private. Most of what they are asking in these surveys they already know.

Todd


28 days ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2017-12-19 14:41:00 (CST)



One thing should be reassuring: The USDA doesn't share the information with the IRS. And Norma, you would be surprised how many wealthy people or better said, their attorneys and tax accounts fight for the last dollar they can save or make. Todd, I agree that a lot is out there already, but not exact enough to base policies on.
Looking at all this from a different angle, I do think that as long as we have such a high amount of food wasted ( about 40%) in the USA, it is important to know how much is produced in the different sectors of agriculture and food production. The knowledge could lead to important steps in fighting this waste.
Another point would be the steady erosion of number of farms in the middle. Without knowing how many and where are leaving the field (pun intended), it is hard for policymakers to support measures. I am convinced that the facts will make a case for direct income support instead of subsidizing production per unit of commodity, since the latter has just been exacerbating the problem of surplus production.
But one has to be able to show with numbers why the system we have doesn't help. Or at least, one could show that all lip-service of supporting the family farm is hypocritical when the outcome of that system is still driving farmers out of business.
Anyway, every civilization depends and has always depended on accurate numbers, today more than ever before ( for example how many tons of pesticides are actually applied) and instead of fighting the census we should be fighting the policymakers for decisions that are detrimental to the farming and rural communities. And look round, there is plenty of work to do. Especially if one includes the wider implications!


28 days ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum


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