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  • Brad Wilson

    I heard Paarlberg at a conference at Harvard Law Schoo last spring. Here (as there) we find a mixed bag. First, he talks of "artificial" pricing, high or low. In fact, farm crop prices don't self-correct very well at all under most market conditions for 150 years, on to 2015, (they lack "price responsiveness" "on both the supply and the demand sides for aggregate agriculture." (Daryll E. Ray, ag. economist) What's "natural" in this 'free' market sense, then, massively destroys the farm and food system causing global starvation. It's a system where farmers massively subsidize consumers. This was fixed in the New Deal with minimum Price Floors, (like minimum wages,) (& maximum Price Ceilings, & with top and bottom side inventory management, like about all other businesses). Congress then lowered Price Floors under corporate pressure to run farmers out of business (i.e. corp. CED, "An Adaptive Program for Agriculture") starting in 1953. Farmers mobilized massively, and called out for urban/food support, but no real help came. All they got were subsidies, (starting in 1961 for wheat, corn and other feedgrains, 1964 for cotton, 1977 for rice, 1998 for soybeans,) that didn't even make up for further reductions in Price Floors. So yes, subsidies didn't cause the cheap prices. And similar changes happened in Market order programs for dairy and vegetables and fruits, so yes, they're lower also. Finally Price Floor programs were ended in 1996 and we had the lowest prices in history (i.e. non "artificial") for about all of the crops. We still had the Conservation Reserve Program, so he calls this "artificially high." Sugar (and dairy for a while,) kept Price Floors but at incrediblly low levels, which Paarlberg also calls "artifically high." So the absence of adequate Price Floors (not subsidies) massively (secretly) "subsidizes" junk food makers, CAFOs, ethanol, exporters, foreign buyers, etc. Cf.