Sunday, May 27, 2012

Demand is So Strong for Government Program Paying Farmers Not to Plant Crops That Some Were Turned Away

Pay people enough not to do things, anything from working to planting crops, and they won't.

More farmers than expected applied to put their land in a government program that pays the farmers not to plant crops and not all of the acres could be accommodated, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday.

The USDA accepted 3.9 million new acres into the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, in the latest sign-up period and turned away 600,000 acres, reports WSJ.

Of course, this is all mad central planning used to buy votes, under the guise of protecting the farm land. WSJ writes:
The USDA is anxious to enroll new acres in the program that is aimed at protecting environmentally sensitive land because on Sept. 30 the contracts that keep about 6.5 million acres of potential farm land idle will expire. Contracts take land out of production, thus conserving soil, for either 10 or 15 years. 
About 30 million acres are now idled under the program, but the 6.5-million-acre exodus will be the largest ever. The USDA spends about $1.8 billion a year on the program, paying “rent” to land owners. 
“By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP protects groundwater and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams,” according to the USDA. “Acreage enrolled in the CRP is planted to resource-conserving vegetative covers, making the program a major contributor to increased wildlife populations in many parts of the country.”
What we really have here is  a case of poorly defined property rights. If lakes, rivers. ponds and streams were privately owned, it is unlikely that the owners would allow runoff on to their properties, unless they were properly compensated.

But further, amazingly, a lot of the USDA payout appears to be going to pay farmers not to plant crops on land that they aren't likely to plant anyway:
 A guaranteed return on land is appealing to farmers, especially if the land isn’t well suited for planting crops, said Todd Davis, a senior economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

That this type of stuff goes on, without major outrage, shows you how far away the country is from being a free market-private property country.


  1. This sounds like New Deal type policies all over again, albeit with different purposes. I understand "some" stuff about water rights and water preservation, but there HAS to be a better way.

  2. Indeed joeyfrat, this is a tougher one than it first appears. The history of fully unregulated wildlife no-management in North America in the 1800 - 1900s produced wholesale species destruction. That's not an "eco" observation, it's an observation regarding useful food for humans, balanced food chains, and American tradition. I don't doubt that left to their own devices, the "sportsmen" of North America would hunt ducks, geese, deer and turkeys to extinction. Probably within 20 years. There is a Texas model for private hunting lands where the species are produced and conserved within the large scale containment, but under those conditions the specimens tend to be skinny, weak, more frequently diseased, and inferior to their wild progenitors. A coordinated trans-border Texas model providing migratory pathways of privately owned acreage is not beyond conception or execution. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that Ducks Unlimited, though out of necessity in our corrupt K street system they do lobby congress w/r/t these laws, also spend $0.80 of every dollar buying land on the open market to do with as they please, the closest thing to a trans-border Texas model yet achieved. That should always be the preferred model - private ownership. Until the human population evolves far enough to recognize its own vast power for one-way uncoordinated destruction, the several million water- and upland- fowl, fish, beneficial insects and the several hundred thousand deer conserved by CRP acreage is not the worst possible product of the dollars stolen from us at gunpoint. In context, it may even be a better use than corn and ethanol subsidies. Let those of us so disposed endeavor to make the CRP a bridge effort, happily remembered someday in its obsolescence as a barbarous relic of a more primitive age.

  3. Haven't the Germans preserved the black forrest for centuries through private ownership? Can't seem to find, but recall Rothbard outlining such.

    1. Sadly, can't find exact. The piece on water rights, in of all places, Texas, informs ["Environmentalists Clobber Texas"]. The air pollution chapter of Controversies contains transferable analogies ["Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution"]. Found an interesting article about the "commons" system in the Black Forest, involving the "three fields" construct which as described did seem to solve, on a somewhat small scale, the need for an interfering bureau.

  4. Ellis Wyatt can you name even 5 species that were exterminated by their wholesale hunting from 1800-1900? I would like to believe you but this seems to be a fairly far fetched claim that I have never seen made or supported by any data before. Also you are very wrong about the preserves in TX. The health and size of the animals is completely dependent upon what the consumers (hunters) want. If they no longer want something small then the preserve owner makes something bigger. If you would like to take a purist view that these preserves do not give the animals "freedom" or a "complete natural ecosystem", then you would be correct.

  5. Anon 1:39; Wasn't expecting quite a rigorous peer-review, so I will cheat by expanding the scope of my first, above. If the argument is for zero governmental regulation of earth air water flora and fauna, then the examples to date provide little support, at least as far as defending the management practices of the European pioneers, merchants, explorers and setllers from the Enlightenment onward. In that broadened scope of claim, then, and including five from the post-Revolution United States:

    1.)Passenger Pigeon, 2.) Sea Cow, 3.) "Blue" walleye [Stizozedion Glaucum], 4.) Caribbean Monk Seal, 5.) Carolina parakeet, 6.) Heath Hen, 7.) Blackfin Cisco, 8.) Eastern Elk, 9.) Sea Mink, 10.) Hawaii Chaff Flower, 10.) Turgid Blosson American Mussel [Epioblasma turgidula]. This list is not comprehensive. Also, let's skip as conceded that there were factors beyond hunting, but that the argument is about management in general. The CRP is given cover under the much more generalized "natural resources" euphemism.

    Additionally, managed back from failing population numbers 1.) American Bison, 2.) Eastern Wild Turkey, 3.) White Tailed Deer, 4.) Great Lakes Sturgeon, 5.) Snowshoe Hare, 6.) Kirkland's Warbler, 7.) American Bald Eagle. I wouldn't want to continue a friendly discussion with anyone who would defend the treatment of the American Bison. And again, I would prefer to view these efforts as happy beginnings from which a self-interested private industry might inherit those aspects of the tax-payer funded science which have proven useful. I am also happy to indict Silent Spring and all its alarmist, central-control covering ilk. If nothing else, let us agree to jettison the hateful term "sustainable." Maybe "durable" would be a step in the right direction. Less like a hospice, more vigor.

    My observations, scientifically invalid, were based on comparison of white tailed deer and mule deer. The quarry on offer in the South Texas Plains and Hill Country were as described, compared to the roaming populations of the Great Lakes states [white tails], and the upper US mountain west [mule deer]. Obviously, there are no roaming Ibex to provide a North American baseline, so on the exotics, or w/r/t any given sample of Texas hosts (which, let's be authentic, vary across a wide spectrum, including the exemplary), I accept your stipulation.

    My intent in mentioning the Texas model was, more to the point, laudatory. If for no other reason than it does not declare, as in so many roaming states, that the wildlife belongs to the fictional entity known as "the people" which is now synonymous with "the ungovernable, unaccountable bureaucracy."