Distressing: Even the USDA Can't Cut a Few Million Dollars

Posted: Dec 25, 2011 2:00 PM

Gee--how would any type of company in any industry know how much of a product/service to produce/sell without the help of the federal government? How could we ever possibly get by without bureaucratic insight and guidance? (Note: extreme sarcasm intended.)

The Agriculture Department is reinstating several reports that it had targeted for elimination two months ago in a cost-cutting move.

The department says that it will reinstate reports for industries such as catfish and trout, hops, fruits and vegetables, and bees and honey.

In October, the USDA had said that eliminating or reducing the frequency of 14 crop and livestock reports would save about $10 million.

But some farmers complained that without the reports, they would be left guessing how much to produce and when to sell.

The reports influence the price and supply of many products that people wind up consuming.

The USDA said this month that several improvements to its operations have allowed the department to find money to reinstate several key reports.

Once welfare systems, agricultural or otherwise, are put into practice, it's very difficult to get rid of them. Why? Because once you start giving people "free" money, they're very reluctant to give it up. Currently, the agriculture industry is subsidized so that farmers have incentives to overproduce their crops, but they're guaranteed they'll get at least some payment for them, with federal (a.k.a., taxpayer) money making up the difference. The government has interfered with the agricultural industry for such a long time and so deeply that it's highly resistant to normal free-market mechanisms, at the taxpayers' and consumers' expense.

If we really can't get rid of a mere $10 million in programs that inject artificial price signals into the agriculture sector and harm our overall economy in the long term, the national debt is just going to keep on increasing, with no end in sight.