Should the United States reduce subsidies to farmers?

President Obama has proposed cutting farm subsidies by tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. Some farmers say the subsidies are necessary to reduce the risk of their business. Today’s Question: Should the United States reduce subsidies to farmers?

  • Emery

    Only 2% or so of the US population is directly employed by the agricultural sector. Rural family farms are a thing of the past. We need to stop giving corporate welfare to giant agribusinesses in the guise of helping out the poor farmer. It is akin to sending billions of foreign aid money to tyrannical dictators abroad under the pretext of feeding the world.

  • Zach

    I look forward to watching every 2012 presidential hopeful passing through Iowa kowtow at the Altar of Ethanol– a strong candidate for the most damaging and indefensible government program in America.

  • Rich

    Whenever I think of farm subsidies, I think of this description of Major Major Major’s father in book Catch-22:

    “He was a farmer who firmly believed that government aid for anybody besides farmers was creeping socialism.”

  • Garyf

    Yes.

    But again, we’ve gotten another group of people addicted to government and now we have to cut them off.

    Is the federal government still subsidizing tobacco?

    Are we still subsidizing sugar beets?

  • laurel Malmstrom

    How many of us who helped pay those subs ever got a penny…. even tho times were very tough….I know people who have bought small farms who benefit from Government.

    All businesses have risks…we can’t sub them all.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Agriculture subsidies were born out of anxiety about the food supply. To some extent they serve a good purpose, but the way they’re currently structured, they create more problems than they solve. They should at least be capped, so they don’t wind up redistributing wealth upward, as they’re doing now.

  • Sue de Nim

    More than 2700 years ago, the prophet Isaiah said this: “Ah, you who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is room for no one but you, and you are left to live alone in the midst of the land! The LORD of hosts has sworn in my hearing: Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant” (Isaiah 5:8-9). He could have been talking about rural America!

  • Larry M.

    Yes, the aid is too focused on certain grains like corn and the subsidies are too often going to large corporate agribusiness. There is often a double subsidy for meats because the grain for feed and the meat itself is subsidized. We subsidize corn which is then processed into high fructose corn syrup, which is less healthy than and competes with our sugar companies. We don’t subsidies vegetables and other healthy foods in the same way, the distortion on the market is leading to unhealthy eating.

  • Chuck

    Indeed they should. The time has come to reduce, with an eye to eliminating, subsidies to all businesses.

  • P. Nielsen

    Only to corporate farms/businesses. Increase funding to those who farm sustainably and organically, and who understand what stewardship of the land means.

  • Current farm subsidies operate under two gross inequities – first they only support 5 crops, corn, cotton, rice, wheat and soybeans. 62% of US farmers receive no federal subsidies. Second, the top 10% of subsidized farms — the largest and wealthiest operations — received 74% of all subsidies since 1995.

    So a broader look at US agriculture reveals that just 4% of all American farmers received 74% of the subsidies — in a time of record farm income and record prices for crops, if we can’t reform our broken food and farm policy now, when?

  • Steve the Cynic

    One small correction, Larry M.: high fructose corn syrup and refined sugar are both equally unhealthful. HFCS, which was originally used as a cheap substitute for sugar that allowed manufacturers to list “sugar” farther down on ingredients lists, or omit it altogether, has merely been getting more attention lately. Sugar beet farmers are rich enough already and don’t need any price supports.

  • Farmer John

    In my opinion, farmers are more than willing to do their part in reducing the federal deficit, but in a reasonable manner. Crop insurance needs to stay in place protecting producers against disaster and ensuring a bountiful food, feed, fuel and fiber supply for our country.

  • GregX

    Subsidies should be cut. the American & global food industry is skewed to optimize on these subsidies for the major crops .. and the result has been an excessive agri-business investment in mono-culture at the expense of developing: (a) diversity in agricultural food-stocks, (b) variety in dietary options & (c) resilience in business and processing systems from swings in mono-crop productions. The phrase too-big-to-fail is the incorrect one here .. the more appropriate one is too-much-picture-hung-on-too-few-nails. Subsidizing everyone to produce the same few crops results in artificial pricing and segragates the general population from the real cost of the current agricultural model – especiallyin the USA. We should be more exposed to the general risk.

  • david

    I totally agree with P. Nielsen comment that subsidies should be ended for the corporate farms, but increased for the organic farmers. Unfortunately that will never happen as our current mindset is only focused on short term profit, not the long term good for all.

  • Rachel

    The government often chooses products to subsidize based on what the population’s current needs are in order to boost production of those products. I think farm subsidies are outdated. The two main subsidized crops in the US are corn and soybeans-the very crops that are contributing to Western diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. While other, more healthful crops are not receiving subsidies. My opinion is: the least we could do, is discontinue these subsidies that are harming our population’s health.

  • Jake

    Can we take a step back here? Subsidies do not make economic sense – this isn’t my opinion, it’s just a fundamental economic reality. Anyone who wants to argue that we should have subsidies should start by explaining why the general public should suffer by paying to create false demand and overproduction. Without such an argument, the answer is simple and obvious: No Subsidies.

  • Mark

    I think the farm subsidies prevent the soil from being so severely depleted of nutrients that little or nothing will grow in the poor soil, by paying farmers to not plant crops on their land every year. So basically the subsidies are protecting our natural resources for future generations and our continued supply of food.On the other hand, sure some subsidies are outdated and need to be reevaluated.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Eliminate corporate welfare to Food, Inc. agribusiness and dramatically increase support to family farms to convert to organic methods.

  • Lawrence

    Good luck cutting those subsidies. Republicans beat us over the head about our love affair with Social Security and Medicare. A close second, however, is the farmers’ love for subsidies.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Another way to deal with the problem of big business taking over agriculture is to institute a graduated land tax, so the per-acre rate goes up the more you have. That idea was floated generations ago, but the powerful agribusiness lobby has always had too much leverage over Congress to allow it to happen.

  • EAL

    See if I can look at this logically, theoritacally, we can survive w/out health care, yet the governement wants a health care subsidy. People cannot live w/out food and we want to reduce its subsidy?!?!?

    For those bleeding hearts who believe we should all live live off the land, please recognize two realities. First, since the turn of the last centry (1899’s to 1900’s) the U.S. has been an urban country. There is not enough land for individuals to be their own farmers. Agribusiness is needed to economically feed some 300 million citiizens not to mention our massive agricultural exports to feed the world.

  • Chris

    Yes, the United States should reduce subsidies to farmers. As the national debt continues to escalate America needs to cut back spending across the board, farm subsidies shouldn’t be immune.

  • Jake

    EAL, I’m not sure what your point has to do with farming subsidies. If people want food, they pay for it. Subsidizing anything just means we produce and consume more of the subsidized item than we would optimally chose to do.

  • Joe Schaedler

    The government should reduce subsidies for unhealthy foods like the corn and soy that become high fructose corn syrup and the myriad other additives that are contributing to the rise in obesity related US health care costs.

    The government should conversely increase subsidies for those healthier crops that would better serve our collective diets. Spinach subsidies anyone?

    Perhaps this way the salad bar would be more affordable and thus more appealing, better benefitting society as a whole.

  • EAL

    Jake – –

    Good [economic] point you make.

  • Patrick

    Giant farmers receive a subsidy if their $100,000 combine is equipped with GPS. The list of ludicrous subsidies is endless. Listening to neighbor farmers tell of hours spent crafting their operation to reap the most handouts is revealing.

    But then our farm qualifies for very few, since it is small and organic.

    It is also revealing to learn that the vast amount of subsidy ends up in the top 4% of ag-business, a mirror of other aspects of american society.

    Shame on the rape of the land. Shame on the financial pimps who promote such. Shame on the public for tolerating short-sighted expedient farm practices. The land is a irreplaceable precious resource slipping through our hands.

  • Lee

    Yes, end the farm subsidies. The whole farm program has turned into an expensive booddoggle that rewards the fat cats and distorts the market into promoting an unhealthy diet for the world.

    Lee

  • Freddie

    It’s freakin’, frackin’ infuriating that we should subsidized crap like corn and soy (thank God tobacco is no longer subsidized) when the world’s most useful plant is left illegal in the United States of America. Can you tell me the last time you’ve given some thought to our real future with agriculture?

    Both ecologically and economically subsidized hemp/cannabis would turn the world around, let alone the country. Thick-headed Americans and the cowardly media are missing the potentials inherent in the plant that has blessed humanity since the dawn of civilization. Too bad we let some corrupt politicians/bureaucrats/corporate executives deceptively take our best green friend away and made us depend on inferior sources of energy, material, food, and medicine.

    The camelina-based jet biofuel that the air force intends to use is made even better if it is hemp oil based. Where’s the sense in ignoring the plant that has been demonized, scorned and slandered when it holds greater promise in prospering our world with sanity and substance than anything else could?

    Cannabis/hemp is solar power. Subsidize that!

  • Jack

    Yes.

    … and as far as Cannabis/Hemp goes:

    Legalize It – Grow It – Use It !!!

  • Chad

    I live in rural Minnesota and work for corn, soy and sugarbeet farmers. Farm subsidies have done nothing to stop the mass exodus from rural America. Subsidize farmers when corn is $7, beans are $13 and a $60 beet payment? No. We need to get beyond the myth that farmers are feeding the world. Every farmer knows the vast majority of corn and soy goes for livestock feed. Meat that the developing world cannot afford to buy and certainly not when commodity prices are so high. And we should subsidize sweeteners when we’re such a fat country? Again, no. I like farmers. I am one, but I get tired of hearing them complain about government spending while taking a handout for themselves.

  • Kim

    Subsidized events have been rampantly in place since 1948, but the idea began back in 1913 under FDR when the Federal Reserve Bank,then called the Central Bank, was created. This group of secretive members composed of the wealthiest set about to control the economy and then later to expand that process to control the economies of the world. Use of subsidies effectively allowed the elite who are controlling the elected officials to choose which companies would stay highly profitable. Today we subsidize as we have for decades, cotton! The corn subsidies were increased to further the Green bio-fuel market of ethanol inspite of the fact that we waste 10,200 gallons of water to process one gallon of ethanol. More corn to ethanol enriches those who invested in the Green economy, the Al Gore and Chicago Climate Exchange folks. People need to wake up and see where our country is today, as the following best explains:

    Per Sheldon Richman in the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:

    As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalistic veneer. In its day (the 1920′s and 1930′s), fascism was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition, and profit-oriented egoism, and Marxism, with its violent socially divisive prosecution of the bourgeoisie.

    Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. ( Bail outs, TARP, favored Crysler and GM) Where socialism abolished money and prices; fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. ( The Federal Reserve supposed to ensure stability of the dollar has set forth to de-value the dollar and now has monitized our debt…something Treasury Secretary Geithner said the Fed would NEVER do. But they did it anyway! (2009)

    Another example is that ObamaCare is not about health care, per se; rather, it is intended to dictate to business and the individual what insurance they must buy, what health care they are allowed to access, and ultimately what behavior is acceptable — all at the whim of a centralized bureaucracy. The Dodd-Frank Bill firmly establishes the concept of “too big to fail” for certain financial institutions, thereby subjecting them to the absolute control of the state while allowing, and in many cases forcing, others to cease doing business, as well as instituting lending and operating policies determined by government regulators.

    Since Obama took office, there has been a 43% increase in Federal mandated regulations Farmers have to control DUST from tractors on dry land so air quality is not affected..what next? Regulate CO2 output under Global warming? oh , wait_ humans_ breathe out Co2….and people wonder why Obama and the corporate cronnism with radical environmentalists and half a billion wasted on things like Solyndra is causing even Democrats to leave the ranks?

  • kim

    Subsidized events have been rampantly in place since 1948, but the idea began back in 1913 under FDR when the Federal Reserve Bank,then called the Central Bank, was created. This group of secretive members composed of the wealthiest set about to control the economy and then later to expand that process to control the economies of the world. Those within the Federal Reserve later started the CFR.

    Use of subsidies effectively allowed the elite who are controlling the elected officials to choose which companies would stay highly profitable. Today we subsidize as we have for decades, cotton! The corn subsidies were increased to further the Green bio-fuel market of ethanol inspite of the fact that we waste 10,200 gallons of water to process one gallon of ethanol. More corn to ethanol enriches those who invested in the Green economy, the Al Gore and Chicago Climate Exchange folks. People need to wake up and see where our country is today, as the following best explains:

    Per Sheldon Richman in the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:

    As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalistic veneer. In its day (the 1920′s and 1930′s), fascism was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition, and profit-oriented egoism, and Marxism, with its violent socially divisive prosecution of the bourgeoisie.

    Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. ( Bail outs, TARP, favored Crysler and GM) Where socialism abolished money and prices; fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. ( The Federal Reserve supposed to ensure stability of the dollar has set forth to de-value the dollar and now has monitized our debt…something Treasury Secretary Geithner said the Fed would NEVER do. But they did it anyway! (2009)

    Another example is that ObamaCare is not about health care, per se; rather, it is intended to dictate to business and the individual what insurance they must buy, what health care they are allowed to access, and ultimately what behavior is acceptable — all at the whim of a centralized bureaucracy. The Dodd-Frank Bill firmly establishes the concept of “too big to fail” for certain financial institutions, thereby subjecting them to the absolute control of the state while allowing, and in many cases forcing, others to cease doing business, as well as instituting lending and operating policies determined by government regulators.

    Since Obama took office, there has been a 43% increase in Federal mandated regulations Farmers have to control DUST from tractors on dry land so air quality is not affected..what next? Regulate CO2 output under Global warming? oh , wait_ humans_ breathe out Co2….and people wonder why Obama and the corporate cronnism with radical environmentalists and half a billion wasted on things like Solyndra is causing even Democrats to leave the ranks?

  • Kim

    Subsidized events have been rampantly in place since 1948, but the idea began back in 1913 under FDR when the Federal Reserve Bank,then called the Central Bank, was created. This group of secretive members composed of the wealthiest set about to control the economy and then later to expand that process to control the economies of the world. Those within the Federal Reserve later started the CFR.

    Use of subsidies effectively allowed the elite who are controlling the elected officials to choose which companies would stay highly profitable. Today we subsidize as we have for decades, cotton! The corn subsidies were increased to further the Green bio-fuel market of ethanol inspite of the fact that we waste 10,200 gallons of water to process one gallon of ethanol. More corn to ethanol enriches those who invested in the Green economy, the Al Gore and Chicago Climate Exchange folks. People need to wake up and see where our country is today, as the following best explains:

    Per Sheldon Richman in the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:

    As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalistic veneer. In its day (the 1920′s and 1930′s), fascism was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition, and profit-oriented egoism, and Marxism, with its violent socially divisive prosecution of the bourgeoisie.

    Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. ( Bail outs, TARP, favored Crysler and GM) Where socialism abolished money and prices; fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. ( The Federal Reserve supposed to ensure stability of the dollar has set forth to de-value the dollar and now has monitized our debt…something Treasury Secretary Geithner said the Fed would NEVER do. But they did it anyway! (2009)

    Another example is that ObamaCare is not about health care, per se; rather, it is intended to dictate to business and the individual what insurance they must buy, what health care they are allowed to access, and ultimately what behavior is acceptable — all at the whim of a centralized bureaucracy. The Dodd-Frank Bill firmly establishes the concept of “too big to fail” for certain financial institutions, thereby subjecting them to the absolute control of the state while allowing, and in many cases forcing, others to cease doing business, as well as instituting lending and operating policies determined by government regulators.

    Since Obama took office, there has been a 43% increase in Federal mandated regulations Farmers have to control DUST from tractors on dry land so air quality is not affected..what next? Regulate CO2 output under Global warming? oh , wait_ humans_ breathe out Co2….and people wonder why Obama and the corporate cronnism with radical environmentalists and half a billion wasted on things like Solyndra is causing even Democrats to leave the ranks?

  • SV

    The problem with subsidies is that they go on forever and they have favored mono-cultures that make nutritious food more expensive while making “junk” foods cheap. We have made a healthy diet out of reach for the poor, and encouraged everyone else to be overweight. We should rethink subsidies and give more to small local farmers and organic farmers. As it is, those who want to create the most healthy foods are penalized by having to sell it at a premium to compete with the subsidized, cheap, food full of empty calories that do not make us healthy. Less subsidy should be allotted to foods that are full of white four and corn syrup and travel huge distances to market. Small local markets need low prices to thrive and make America healthy again.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Gee, Kim, I didn’t know FDR was president in 1913! My high school history teacher must have been lying to me. Wikipedia seems to be wrong about that, too. Why don’t you go correct it?

    Seriously, if I were a right-wing ideologue, I would be telling you to shut up, because your silly rants would be hurting my cause. But if your goal is to show people how ridiculous far-right Tea Party libertarianism is, so they’ll move back to the center, you’re doing a great job. Keep up the good work!

  • Tom

    Stop subsidizing substitutes for real satisfaction.

    Prohibition… goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. – Abraham Lincoln

    What do we really want and need?

    “The best hemp and the best tobacco grown on the same kind of soil. The former article is of first necessity to the commerce and marine, in other words to the wealth and protection of the country. The latter, never useful and sometimes pernicious, derives its estimation from caprice.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President, Jefferson’s journal entry / March 16, 1791

    Did Thomas Jefferson really care about the country and Its people?

    Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?

    – Henry Ford

    How greedy do we need to be?

    “However, the connection of hemp as a crop and marijuana seems to be exaggerated. The drug is usually produced from wild hemp or locoweed which can be found on vacant lots and along railroad tracks in every state. If federal regulations can be drawn to protect the public without preventing the legitimate culture of hemp, this new crop can add immeasurably to American agriculture and industry.” – Popular Mechanics, 1938

    When did Americans begin to call their beloved Hemp, “marijuana”?

    “What was done with the seed saved from the India Hemp

    last summer? It ought, all of it, to have been sewn again;

    that not only a stock of seed sufficient for my own purposes

    might have been raised, but to have disseminated the seed

    to others; as it is more valuable than the common Hemp.”

    – George Washington, First U.S. President

    If the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.

    – Terence McKenna

    Should we just scrap this planet and start over?

  • Alison

    Yes, it is time to end the subsidies. If we are to subsidize anything it should be the production of real food that can be part of a healthy diet. We should not be subsidizing the endless miles of corn to be turned into sweetener. We should not be subsidizing the dumping of tons of chemicals onto fields to run off to the Gulf creating a massive deadzone. We should not be subsidizing massive feedlots or poultry factories with hundreds of thousands of animals. The biggest beneficiaries of the handouts are not farms but food factories which bear little resemblance to farms.

  • Kim

    To Steve the liberal cynic_reply.

    That was a typo, I had meant to write Woodrow Wilson. I erred as bad as Obama saying in his 2008 interview that he had visited “57 states” campaigning.. ..thanks for noting the error on the end of 1913 President. I noticed you couldn’t refute the rest of the posting_ especially about the current President’s policies emulating fascism.

    Obama’s trade deals are further proof where we are building China and Mexico at America’s expense. But this is the lead which the Bilderberg Group has set forth for the past decades.

    So yes Steve, the truth will set you free 🙂 unless you rely on tweaked history books as the ones we grew up with that paints the Democratic party as the leader in Civil Rights when the Congressional records show it was the Republicans who led the charge for equal rights; e.g., The Democrats voted down the post Civil War reparations act where each slave was afforded a free 40 acre parcel for farming.

  • Steve the Cynic

    No, Kim, it’s not that I “couldn’t” refute your claims. It’s that I didn’t bother to try, because your rants are too ridiculous to take seriously. Obama a fascist? Give me a break! Mousolini and Hitler were fascists. Fascism is a totalitarian ideology. Only by a twisted, misleading, Orwellian redefinition of the term can anyone in American politics be called a fascist. (BTW, there are those on the left who would label you a fascist, noting that your ideology would lead to a takeover of American society by the uber-wealthy; they’re wrong, too, because that would be plutocracy, not fascism.)

    Finally, I’m “liberal” only by comparison with your right-wing extremism. My authentically liberal friends would laugh to hear me called that.

  • Mary

    Based on the fact that we have had farm subsidies of one form or another for over 60 years, that have resulted in a “cheap food” policy, removal of all subsidies would increase the variability of food and commodity prices. Eliminating subsidies would result in two outcomes: spikes in prices for food items, or crashes in prices when there is surplus production. This would result in farmers going broke. Subsidies have served to level the playing field, but definitely benefited the bigger players.

  • Steve the Cynic

    One more thing, Kim: It’s true that the Republican Party originally led the charge for civil rights, but that was during Reconstruction. By the 1960s, during the period most folks refer to by the phrase civil rights movemement, the roles were largely reversed, except for southern conservative Democrats, who either left the party and became Republicans (Strom Thurmond, et al) or repented of their evil, racist ways (George Wallace, et al).

  • Kevin VC

    Yes if its beyond the needs of ONE family of maybe up to 5 people roughly, to live at around 50K a year, which is middle class.

    And if they are above 50K cut them off.

    Way to many MEGA farms out there.

  • Rose

    End subsidies for corn.

    Subsidize Hemp (Cannabis sativa) instead.

    Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is the source of one of the longest, strongest natural fibers on earth, two to three times stronger than cotton.

    It can be grown in just about any climate and soil condition, without the need for chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers. It is excellent for reclaiming otherwise-unusable land. It has even been shown to clean up toxic soil.

    Hemp has strong mold, bacteria, heat, and U.V. resistant qualities.

    Hemp is the world’s most versatile fiber. Anything that can be made from wood, cotton, or oil can be made from hemp. Important uses include:

    Textiles

    Rope & twine

    Construction materials

    Industrial composites

    Paper

    Paints & sealants

    Plastics & polymers

    Fuel & lubricants

    Food

    Medicine

    Body care products

    HISTORY

    Hemp is the oldest cultivated fiber plant in the world, as old as agriculture itself.

    Hemp (ma) was used in China as early as 4500 B.C. for ropes and fishing nets. Later it was also used for paper, cloth, food, and oil.

    Qaneh at Exodus 30:23 referred to cannabis oil used in a holy ointment. (It is usually mistranslated as calamus.)

    Hemp seed oil is said to burn the brightest of all lamp oils, and has been used since the days of Abraham. Scythians purified and cleansed themselves with hemp oil, which made their skin “shining and clean.”

    Hemp was used in northern Europe by 400 B.C. for rope and cloth. The English word canvas comes from cannabis.

    Until the late 19th century, most paper was made from hemp fiber.

    The first Gutenberg bible was printed on hemp paper.

    Most sails and ropes of the 16th through 18th centuries were made from hemp. Much of the world’s lamp oil was from hemp seed.

    In Elizabethan England, farmers were fined for not growing hemp. In 1640, it was required that every citizen in Connecticut grow hemp.

    The war between The United States and Great Britain in 1812 was partly about access to Russian hemp, as was Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia. Hemp was Russia’s primary trade crop in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    The first drafts of the United States’ Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper.

    The first American flag was made out of hemp cloth, as were the first blue jeans.

    Benjamin Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper.

    George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. In 1791, Jefferson said, “Hemp is of first necessity to the commerce and marine, in other words, to the wealth and protection of the Country.” In 1794 Washington said, “Make the most of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.”

    The “Marihuana Tax Act” of 1937 effectively ended hemp production in the USA, except for a brief revival for textiles and rope during World War II. (The perfection of a mechanical decorticator had in the 1920’s made hemp a viable challenge to the petroleum and timber industries.)

    In 1941 the Ford Motor Company produced an automobile with a plastic body made from sisal, wheat, and primarily (70%) hemp. The plastic withstood blows 10 times as great as steel could without denting. Its weight was 2/3 that of a regular car. Its engine was designed to run with hemp-oil fuel.

    “Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?” –Henry Ford

    “Hemp is the standard fiber of the world. It has great tensile strength and durability. It is used to produce more than 5,000 textile products ranging from rope to fine laces, and the woody ‘hurds’ remaining after the fibers have been removed can be used to produce more than 25,000 products.” –Popular Mechanics, 1938

    In 1999, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Hawaii legalized the growing of industrial hemp. Other states are urging the federal government to allow it. The USA is the world’s largest importer of industrial hemp products.

    (“Industrial” hemp resin contains less than 1% THC, the main psychoactive compound in “medicinal” hemp.)

    SUSTAINABILITY

    Hemp paper is longer lasting than wood-pulp paper, stronger, acid free, and chlorine free. (Chlorine has been estimated to cause up to 10% of all cancers.) Hemp paper can be recycled 7 times, wood pulp 4 times. Making paper from hemp uses only 1/5 to 1/7 as much polluting, sulfer-based chemicals and requires no chlorine bleach.

    Hemp fabric requires fewer chemicals than cotton and is stronger and longer lasting.

    Hemp particle board may be up to 2 times stronger than wood particleboard and holds nails better.

    Hemp products are resistant to ultraviolet light.

    One acre of hemp, in annual rotation over a twenty-year period would produce as much pulp for paper as four acres of trees being cut down over the same twenty-year period.

    One acre of hemp can produce as much usable fiber as two acres of cotton.

    5,000-10,000 cancer-related deaths are caused yearly from pesticides and herbicides. Nearly half of all of the use of such pollutants in the USA is for cotton alone. Hemp needs no pesticides or herbicides and is naturally mildew resistant.

    Cotton requires extensive water subsidies. Hemp requires less water than cotton and grows in cooler climates.

    Hemp is an excellent rotation crop: It crowds out weeds and its deep tap roots break up hard pan soils.

    Anything made from a hydrocarbon (petroleum) can be made from a carbohydrate (plants). Hemp plastic is biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic is not.

    The industrial use of fossil fuels contributes to global warming by rapidly increasing the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere; hemp-derived fuels maintain the earth’s natural O2/CO2 balance.

    Hemp can produce 10 times more methanol than corn, the second-best living fuel source.

    The hydrocarbons in hemp can be easily processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas. Development of biofuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

    The sulfur from oil burning causes acid rain; hemp burns cleanly and sulfur free.

    Hemp seed is 30% oil, is more nutritious than soy bean, contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soy beans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is 35% dietary fiber. Hemp seed does not contain THC.

    “I feel the industrial hemp crop could very easily be the soy bean crop of the new millennium.” –Jeffrey W. Gain, USDA