It’s Time for a ‘Zero-for-Zero’ End to Farm Subsidies

Farm markets have for decades now been global – while our Farm Bill policy has remained myopically domestic.

We are approaching the DC Sleepy Season.  Congress will soon adjourn for the summer.  President Barack Obama will take that opportunity to jet off for his monthly vacation – this time in middle class Martha’s Vineyard.  So for a time, our freedoms and our wallets will be just a little bit safer. 

People (should) use downtime to rest, recharge – and reflect on next steps.  On Farm Bill policy, the next steps are – or should be – obvious.   

After its first ever failure in the House, and the House’s subsequent passage of reform-free food-stamp-free subsidies, we stand in limbo and soon to be adjourned.   

Farm markets have for decades now been global – while our Farm Bill policy has remained myopically domestic.  This navel-gazing has resulted in myriad subsidies and protectionist policies – emplaced in perpetual back-and-forth response to other countries doing the exact same anti-free market thing. 

So we now have a global farm market where most nations have Tetris-esque impediments to trade entry.  High protectionist walls – with new pieces falling into place and in the way each respective legislative session.  

So instead of perpetuating the same fifty-plus year failed policy – or adding to it – we should work to tear down the barriers that have been built.   

It’s called Zero-for-Zero.  Where we approach the planet and say “You get rid of your trade barriers, and we’ll get rid of ours.”  In other words, we have zero protectionism – and so does everyone else.  Right now, it’s being proposed on sugar.   

In attempting to reform and improve sugar policy in the United States,…the zero for zero approach…holds an as yet untried avenue that could possibly break the stalemate….

 Consider that there are more than 100 sugar producing countries worldwide, and there

are also basically 100 different sugar policies, each of which includes various forms of

government intervention…. 

(A) free market approach rewards the best and most efficient business people and not the most heavily subsidized producer,…(zero for zero) could stabilize domestic and ultimately world market sugar prices…. 

Government out of markets creates free markets, and free markets lead to free and fair markets, and that, in the final analysis, is where world sugar needs to be…. 

Beauty in its simplicity.  In its conception – obviously it will take a bit of international lifting to get it off the ground.  As the late, great Ronald Reagan said: 

There are no easy answers – but there are simple answers. 

Then again, how easy has the last half century – spent trying to restore a unilateral US free farm market – been? 

Florida Republican Congressman Ted Yoho has put forward on Zero-for-Zero a “Sense of the House” Resolution – H.Con.Res.39: 

Expressing the sense of Congress that all direct and indirect subsidies that benefit the production or export of sugar by all major sugar producing and consuming countries should be eliminated. 

Again, simplistic beauty.  It thus far has thirteen co-sponsors.  And it is that rarest of DC occurrences – bipartisan.  Eight other Republicans and five Democrats have signed on.   

Their Congressional colleagues – House and Senate – should join them in support of a modernized, free market approach.  And We the People should let them know they should. 

There’s an old joke: 

Patient: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” 

Doctor: “Don’t do that.” 

When it comes to the Farm Bill, we’ve been doing what hurts for fifty-plus years.  Let’s not do that anymore.  Let’s instead work on something that will actually work – a global free market.

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