Monday, March 17, 2008

Definition of a Farmer--Collin Peterson

Rep. Peterson wants to change the definition of a "farmer" according to this piece:

DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom reported yesterday that, “House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said this week he wants the new farm bill to raise the dollar value in sales a farmer needs to be included in the Census of Agriculture, and he wants to save money by ending crop subsidies to landowners and farmers with fewer than 20 acres that qualify for government payments.

It would be logical to index the baseline (currently $1,000) for inflation. And it's hard to see someone who sells under $1,000 as a "farmer". We naturally think of a "farmer" as someone who works full-time at that occupation. There are "actors" who mostly work as waiters in NY or other interim occupations. And there are "writers" who earn nothing by their writing (although I think IRS requires you earn something to claim a business office deducation). But a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher is mostly a full-time job.

While it's a nice concept, I doubt Rep. Peterson will get very far. The nature of political argument is that you always use the statistic that seems to support your case. That might be one of the laws of politics.

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