Friday, December 19, 2008

Vilsack and Conservation Subsidies

This Politico story says Vilsack and wife got $42,782 in farm subsidies in 2000-2006, linking to the EWG database. When you go there, you see they've got a Conservation Reserve Program contract, accounting for the payments. (Which is also described lower in the story.) So the question is, are those "subsidies"?

Merriam-Webster says: subsidy=" a grant or gift of money: as a: a sum of money formerly granted by the British Parliament to the crown and raised by special taxation b: money granted by one state to another c: a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public."

So, researchers who get grants to study cancer cures are being "subsidized"? Or Pell grants are "subsidies"?

Technically, the Vilsacks have a contract, it's a quid pro quo. I suppose cancer researchers and Pell grantees also have conditions. I'm not sure what converts the Vilsack's contract into a "subsidy" when a cancer researcher is not normally seen as "subsidized". One might suppose the fact that there's no free market operating, but CRP contracts are competitive, as are NIH grants. (If I recall, there's a bid process where farmers offer land which is evaluated according to criteria as to the relative importance of taking it out of annual crop production.)

I think the bottom line is CRP payments have been tainted by the other payments FSA issues, many of which are more appropriately labeled "subsidies" (i.e., no competition) even though they all are contracts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you related to House? Loved the clarification!