The Environmental Working Group is a radical “green” organization that scaremongers about everything from “what’s in your tap water” to “your shampoo,” the chemicals “lurking in the cleaners underneath your sink” to the “pesticides … on your food.”
But EWG does provide one valuable service. It tracks the welfare showered on agriculture through its “Farm Subsidy Database.” Recently, EWG calculated that agribusiness received “$14 billion in taxpayer-funded commodity subsidies in 2015 and 2016.” Between 1995 and 2016, the subsidy bill came to $353.5 billion.
For New Mexico, the two decades of pork to pork et al totaled $1.9 billion. The graph below reveals how the money was spent.
By commodity type, livestock ($313.6 million) was the top beneficiary in the Land of Enchantment, followed by wheat ($229.9 million), cotton ($178.0 million), corn ($135.7 million), and sorghum ($133.7 million.) Curry, Quay, and Roosevelt Counties grabbed the most cash. Bernalillo County, unsurprisingly, got the least.
Farm subsidies are costly to taxpayers, they distort the economy, and they harm the environment. Subsidies induce farmers to overproduce, which pushes down prices and creates political demands for more subsidies. And subsidies hinder farmers from innovating, cutting costs, diversifying their land use, and taking other actions needed to prosper in the competitive global economy.
Washington is broke, with $20.5 trillion in publicly held and intragovernmental debt and hundreds of trillions in unfunded liabilities for “entitlements.” In addition to many other ways that New Mexico is dependent on D.C., the state gets considerable sums from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The money won’t last forever. Maybe elected officials should be exploring that inevitability, and preparing for a subsidy-free future?