Farmers deserve much-needed aid

When humankind discovered agriculture, the groundwork for future civilization was put in place. Farmers are the foundation of modern societies, as others within the community rely on them as their primary source of food. The shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture was the sociological leap that allowed for the development of industrial and technological societies. Here in America, especially the Midwest, farmers provide the most basic amenity so that carpenters can build, writers can write, professors can teach and students can learn.

Farming is the economic base without which our capitalist system would surely falter. In the next few weeks, Congress will have a choice to renew faith and finances in the highly respectable profession or it can discontinue farm subsidies and force some farmers to abandon their livelihoods. Congress is expected to conduct a top-to-bottom review of farm subsidies and decide to either continue to financially support agriculture or to let farmers take a chance with very low odds of survival in a free farm market.

In the last five years, $72 billion in tax money have aided farmers. However, it is not only the farmers who benefit from government support but the nation as a whole. Citizens benefit from stable and often less expensive grocery prices due to the aid that farmers receive. As long as they carefully and diligently tend American soil, the nation owes farmers the financial means to support themselves and their families without having to increase the cost of food for the rest of the nation.

Flooding, drought and low crop prices hurt farmers and their families last year. If there had not been government checks in place to help financially back the farmers, most would have sustained extreme financial losses and surely some would have gone under.

Yet critics claim that farmers are getting rich from government subsidies and that farmers who do not need help are receiving an alarmingly large portion of federal aid. There is a bit of truth to this. Big farms receive big checks, which are proportionate to the size of the farm. Naturally, this makes some sense: The bigger the farm, the more capital invested so the more money the investor stands to lose. Also, the head of a large farm has more responsibilities, and just like a CEO of a major corporation, he or she earns more than his small business counterpart – it is the nature of the game. The farm economy, however, is too large of a game to lose, and Congress and the public need to support farmers at all levels.

Our society was founded on the principles of agriculture, and today it is the force that sustains and feeds our nation. Congress must renew its commitment to farming, to those who work the fields and to their constituents who buy the fruits of the farmers’ labor.