On the drive home yesterday I heard an interesting piece that tied my crop and drought posts into a neat closed loop, on the Marketplace show from American Public Media. You can read the summary here but the full radio interview is available here and is much more interesting.
In summary the rancher, Ken Lenox is a fifth generation cattle rancher in Rolla, Missouri says:
- The rain from Isaac isn’t nearly enough
- started feeding the cattle hay in August
- Normally doesn’t start doing this until January
- They’ve driven a 400-mile round trip to buy hay from western Missouri
Which endorses the significance of the drought; the fact that there is a real shortage of hay already, and that the livestock industry is in for a long dry Autumn and trouble ahead.
The Republicans have been making a big deal out of the changes to the welfare rules, bitching about the removal of the requirement to work for welfare. I’ve been reading about “crop insurance” – it’s a huge transfer of income from the Government money to private businesses, many of which are effectively multi-millionaires if you take into account their estates/assets.
We are in the worst drought in living memory here in Texas. Farmers along with >50% of US States are designated drought disaster zones. More than 84% of farmers have drought insurance, it covers corn, rice, barley etc. It’s paid for through federal tax dollars. I’m wondering what the Republicans will explain this… over $7-billion goes from the US Government to private companies to offer insurance, the Government then make payments to farmers to help cover their premiums. Welfare with no work…
Farm states are politically important; the numbers of voters are to a degree, relatively low compared to the urban areas. The Republicans are bitching about the Urban poor, mostly but not always non-white. The Farmers are mostly old white guys, and the Republicans are appealing to old white guys. There are just 2% of the attendees at this years Republican National Convention that are non-white.
Right around now Congress is about to sign a new crop-insurance bill. Let’s hear it for old white guys, winning even under a black President.