My Thoughts On Bernie Sanders: Improving The Rural Economy

bernie-taxes

We’re talking about Bernie Sanders again, and in this post, I’ll be going over my houghts on Bernie’s “Improving The Rural Economy” portion, which dives into what he’d do, as President, for people in more rural areas. Looking through this, he’s got A LOT of stuff here, and some of it’s the usual banter you’d expect from him, but some of it’s sorta vague as well. Let’s dive in, shall we?

So, I need to break this post into parts. The first one goes over his main goals for he rural economy, while the other part goes over the other things he’d like to do as well. Here, we begin with the main thing’s he’d do.

#1. Improving Rural Economies

Make sure that family farmers and rural economies thrive;

One word: how?

#2. New Farmers

Expand support for young and beginning farmers;

Throughtout the reading up to this point, you have made no specific plans to expand the “X” program, or continue the “Y” program. You’ve given us completely vague rehtoric.

#3. Increasing The Food Supply

Produce an abundant and nutritious food supply;

Abundant is one thing, and for the most part, we have that right now. In most sectors of farming and agriculture, production is going up, with a few exceptions, which can be found here. Now, nutritious is a completely different thing, and that’s where we need to talk.

Bernie use’s “nutritious” here, and that makes me wonder how he will get this “nutritious food supply”? Sure, fruits, veggies, meats, and so on have their nutritional values respectively, but I get the feeling that that’s not what Bernie really means. Perhaps it has something to do with GMO’s? I don’t know. This is, unsurprisingly again, another vague statement.

#4. Soil Conservation

Establish an on-going regeneration of our soils; and

I’m not sure if Bernie knows this, but there’s this thing called “crop rotation”, where farmers rotate what crops they plant, so to replenish the nutrients in the soil that are taken from the last thing they had planted, and control pests. Consider it a natural pesticide and fertilizer. This has been around for a long time, and it’s nothing new to famers and the agriculture community.

I get the feeling here that he’s talking about man-made fertilizers and pesticides, and specifically, specilization of bigger producers in certain crops and grows. In that area, I would say that there is a problem,  but fertilizers do help to keep those areas going. I’m honestly not even sure how to approach this one in general, since Bernie, yet again, is being vague here.

#5. Climate Change

Enlist farmers as partners in promoting conservation and stewardship to keep our air and water clean and to combat climate change.

How did I know this would come up? What’s funny is, earlier in this section, Bernie mentioned the following:

Throughout his career, Senator Sanders has successfully fought for innovative rural economic development initiatives, including investments in farm-to-school and farm-to-table initiatives; agri-tourism programs; school gardens; large scale bio-mass fired electric plants; shared agricultural processing and storage facilities; and anaerobic digesters to process cow manure into methane gas.

Now contrast this with the fact that Bernie has said he wants to tax carbon emissions, and, get this… methane emissions. Sanders has supported bills in the past to tax methane emissions, and without a doubt, he still believes in going for it.

Now, what does this have to do with farmers? Who will pay the taxes of those methane emissions, after they’ve set up their “anaerobic digesters” facility on their farm to process cow manure, not into fertilizer, but to a gas? The farmers. The big-agriculture producers will be able to deal with this just fine. The small, family farmer? If they’re being so squeezed, then won’t this hurt them? They’re seeing some of their revenues shrink, and in the midst of that, you want to tax them ON TOP of what you already plan to do? That’s cold, to say the least.


Now, for the second part of his post, which covers several other things Sander’s talks about in this page.

#6. Family Farms over Factory Farms

It is unacceptable that just four corporations control 82% of the nation’s beef cattle market, 85% of soybean processing, and 63% of pork processing.  It is unacceptable that there are over 300,000 fewer farmers than there were 20 years ago.

So what’s you plan, sir? What do you want to do? Throwing a hissy fit isn’t an answer. Costs of production are rising, and it makes me wonder why? Maybe it has something to do with complaince with EPA, DOA, and other alphabet soup agencies and their stupid regulations.

Do you wan just a quick taste of what small farmers have to go through to be in compliance? Here’s a quick taste, and note, this is just a summary for this article. The whole thing is much, much longer:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture imposes extensive regulatory controls on agricultural markets. Some regulations are intended to promote safety and reduce disease, while others restrict commodity supplies and raise consumer prices. The Code of Federal Regulations includes 10,720 pages of rules for the USDA to enforce, covering everything from popcorn promotion to farmers’ markets.1

Consider federal “marketing orders,” which are used for milk, fruits, vegetables, and other products. The USDA says that these regulations are for “enforcing product quality standards, regulating the flow of product to the market, standardizing packages and containers, creating reserve pools for storable commodities, and authorizing production and marketing research and advertising.”2 Marketing orders are also designed to “improve returns to producers,” according to the USDA.3 Unfortunately, those government-generated profits usually come at the expense of American consumers.

Import barriers are another set of rules that confer benefits on certain farm producers at the expense of consumers. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States includes 364 pages of tariff listings for agricultural imports.4 The general rate on turkeys is 6.4 percent, the rate on clam juice is 8.5 percent, and the rate on canned tuna is 35 percent. There are also substantial import barriers on milk, cheese, sugar, peanuts, cotton, orange juice, and rice. By raising prices, trade barriers harm consumers and damage American industries that use the protected products. They also work counter to USDA food programs that aid poor families, such as the food stamp program.

In addition to that, Bernie mentions subsidies to big-ag, and how unfair it is. While I believe that there should be no subsidy what-so-ever, let’s put this into perspective. Here is a graph that show’s where the DOA’s money goes to:

doa spending

 

Notice that farm programs get’s the second biggest amount of $24 Billion dollars, which completely pails in comparison to that of what they give to food programs, which would be $106.3 Billion. According to Downsizing Government:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture distributes between $10 billion and $30 billion in cash subsidies to farmers and owners of farmland each year.1 The particular amount depends on market prices for crops, the level of disaster payments, and other factors. More than 90 percent of agriculture subsidies go to farmers of five crops—wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton.2 More than 800,000 farmers and landowners receive subsidies, but the payments are heavily tilted toward the largest producers.3

Understanding that farmers are also consumers is key. If a subsidy exists, they will try to take advantage of it, and when it is going more towards a big farming operation, sometimes, it will weigh on a decision to sell to a larger producer, which I get the feeling Bernie doesn’t recognize.

Another thing is that Bernie wants to unequally distribute these subsidies towards the smaller producer, who produces much, much less compared to the large corporate producer. If there is a reason why the subsidies go towards the major corps rather than the smaller farmer, look right there at who is able to output more, then tell me again about your feels and how we should spread the government money you already took from the farmers.

And speaking of taxes, let’s have another bried discussion. Bernie wants to raise taxes. There is no denying this, and his plans would end up taxing farmers more and more than they are now. Small operations operate on thin margins, meaning that they can’t afford to have unforseen costs come up. An increase in taxes, on top of their current expenses, would only make them either go into debt, which is never fun, or sell-out to a bigger producer, which we know Bernie isn’t a fan of. It makes me wonder why we can’t just get rid of the subsidy and just let the farmers keep more of their money? That’s the right thing to do, and it’s the just thing to do.

#7a. Supporting Agriculture – Standing for the little guy

Fighting for America’s small and mid-sized farms. Abraham Lincoln called the United States Department of Agriculture the “People’s Department” and Senator Sanders will ensure that the agency lives up to this name by expanding its services for new and underserved farmers.

Sir, increasing their taxes, while passing new regulations and laws for them to figure out how to comply with isn’t helping them. It’s hurting them. Take note.

 #7b. Supporting Agriculture – Buying Local

Encouraging the growth of regional food systems. Farmers throughout the country are boosting their bottom line and reinvigorating their communities by selling directly to local consumers, institutions, and restaurants. Senator Sanders will invest in this movement, helping Americans support local farms.

giphy

Please, don’t get involved. Like all monies given down from a government, there are strings attached, and by strings, I mean regulations. See the above example, as well as my earlier shpeal on the Department of Agriculture as to why Sander’s getting involved is a bad idea.

#7c. Supporting Agriculture – Stop Free Trade

Reversing trade policies like NAFTA that have flooded the American market with agricultural goods produced in countries with less stringent environmental, labor, and safety regulations.

Hey Bernie, wanna reduce imports and increase exports? Then stop putting more barriers to entry on the markets, and making it harder to do business. You want to have more American exports, yet you completely cancel that out with everything else you plan to do.

#7d. Supporting Agriculture – Breaking Up Big-Agra

Enforcing our country’s antitrust laws against large agribusiness and food corporations. A few large companies dominate many agricultural industries, allowing them to force unfair prices on farmers. Senator Sanders will stand up to these corporations and fight to ensure that farmers receive fair prices.

Just as Sander’s wants to break up the big banks, Sander’s wants to break up the major Agriculture corporations. This is unrealistic, to say the least. Through their donations to candidates, and their lobbying in Congress, and at both the State and Local levels, not to mention their people in the Department of Agriculture, he really believe’s he can do this? Oh, I feel sorry for him.

#8. Diversifying

Senator Sanders would substantially increase investments in wind energy and would make the Wind Production Tax Credit permanent.  By making these investments, wind could supply over 40 percent of Iowa’s electricity in the next five years.  By 2030 wind energy in Iowa could supply enough electricity for 6.3 million average American homes.

And, it’s not only wind.  Biofuels like ethanol have been an economic lifeline to rural and farm communities in Iowa and throughout the Midwest, supporting over 850,000 workers, all while keeping our energy dollars here at home instead of going into the pockets of oil barons in the Middle East and Russia.

Senator Sanders strongly supports the Renewable Fuels Standard that is helping us move beyond oil.

Moreover, when we talk about harnessing energy from the sun, the good news is that solar panels accounted for more than 60% of renewable energy production systems on farms.  According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cost of residential solar has come down 75% since 2009.

In short, Senator Sander’s is looking out for his own version of Solyndra to fund with government monies via a nice tax break or subsidy, and he wants farmers to be involved. But what’s interesting about this is that he still will tax it. It’ll turn into another expense to be taxed on, even if the farmer makes money from doing it.

Do I see farmers putting wind turbines on their property to be a bad thing? Unless they’re trying to spread GMO seeds to non-GMO fields, then no. But to artificially create an incentive that wouldn’t be there unless for government is to provide false signals to the market, and should said subsidy or tax break disappear, the incentive will be gone, and the collapse would begin.

#9a. Rebuild Rural America – Improving Our Power Grid

As part of the Rebuild America Act, Senator Sanders would invest $50 billion on power transmission and distribution modernization projects to improve the reliability and resiliency of our ever more complex electric power grid.  This investment will also position our grid to accept new sources of locally generated renewable energy, and it will address critical vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks.

Okay, so we’re gonna throw $50 Billion at what? First off, the tranmitters and many other machines involved in power operations aren’t even made here. They’re built in places like Germany, and it takes almost 3 quarters of a year to get just one of them done.

I’m well aware that America’s power grid needs some work done. Hell, “some” is an understatement, but this is best left to the states, who have more direct say and interest in the matter, and can plan according to their environment and needs. California’s needs are going to be completely different from that of, say for example, Florida. I live near a power facility, and, as a matter of fact, have almost always lived quite close to power plants (except for 3 years). We can have power all we want,  but if we strangle the produce, that doesn’t do us good.

I’d get into Bernie’s roll in helping to hurt the coal industry, which, you know, feeds lot’s of coal power plants all over the country, but I think I’ll save that for the Climate Change post. But if anything, that sure isn’t helping the rural families and communities who relied upon those jobs. That’s for sure.

#9b. Rebuild Rural America – Internet Access

Senator Sanders’ Rebuild America Act would invest $25 billion over five years to expand high-speed broadband networks in under-served and un-served areas, and would boost speeds and capacity all across the country, particularly in rural areas.

It makes me wonder where he’s getting all the money from to do this stuff? Oh wait, he’d tax rural people more, that’s right. But hey, you’ll have ACCESS to broadband networks, meaning you’ll still need to purchase access from a provider, such as Comcast (eww), AT&T (more eww), Verizon (even more eww), or so on. It kind of sounds like a lump-sum subsidy for the ISP’s to expand their operations. After all, you’d think they wouldn’t need government cash when they have their own profits as it is.

#9c. Rebuild Rural America – Dams and Levees

The Rebuild America Act will invest $12 billion a year to repair and improve the high-hazard dams that provide flood control, drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, and recreation across rural America; and the flood levees that protect our farms and our towns and cities.

This is, again, another issue that should be dealt with by the states, who would know much more about the situation of their infrastructure than the EPA or some other government agency (they’d probably blow the dam if they get their hands on it).

This isn’t to say that there is no problem ongoing here. Indeed, there are a lot of dams that need to be addressed, and soon, but shitting out monies the Federal Government doesn’t have won’t make things better for the taxpayers.


I’m doing a series on Bernie Sanders, and all of those posts can be found at this link here, which will be updated every time I finish a new part of the series.

You can find that page here: [LINK]

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