In Catch-22, Major Major’s father was a wealthy alfalfa farmer who had gotten rich by having the government pay him not to grow alfalfa and who used his money to buy more land, with the result that he “soon was not growing more alfalfa than any other man in the county.” (p.86)
The parallel may not be exact but consider: pork and poultry CAFOs are asking the USDA to buy up–to the tune of $75 million in the last six months–the extra meat they’re producing that they can’t sell. Meanwhile, the USDA is guaranteeing loans to pork and poultry producers who want to build new CAFOs or expand existing ones.
Major Major’s father would approve. True, CAFOs aren’t getting paid not to raise hogs, but they are getting paid to raise hogs nobody wants–and getting paid to raise even more hogs nobody wants. Similar principle.
And while the USDA is buying up their excess product–even as it helps them to overproduce even more–the little guy keeps getting squeezed. He’s not getting these subsidies. Oh well, who cares, right?
If you care, then know that The Missouri Rural Crisis Center is getting the word out about the dodge that the CAFOs have going on and is urging Missourians to sign on to a letter to Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack.
If Vilsack were really on top of the job, he would have noticed and rectified this double dipping already, but it’s our job to nudge him in the right direction.