The May 7 editorial “Stop paying wealthy farmers” greatly missed the mark. Rather than offer tangible reforms for policymakers to consider, it reinforced the disconnect between urban elites and rural America.
The average Agriculture Department loan recipient will borrow $300,000 annually to raise crops or livestock for an average rate of return of less than 2 percent — a proposition few would accept. Add in geopolitical risks, pandemics, natural disasters, labor shortages and stagnant trade opportunities, and the value proposition feels dismal, underscoring the importance of the farm safety net for those who feed, fuel and clothe everyone in the United States.
Without the farm bill’s risk-management tools, very few could accept those terms and continue as farmers.
In rural America, agriculture is all that is left. But judging from the tone of this editorial — and the disregard for “small farm states” — it seems as though the writers wouldn’t mind if the family farms that color our rural landscape disappeared. The editorial board would better serve its readers by visiting rural America to learn what it takes to produce food, fuel and fiber for the world.
John Boozman, Washington
The writer, a Republican from Arkansas, is a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.