Farmer Joe and the Feds (Updated)
Maybe it’s the fact that he’s Kansas born and bred, or maybe it was just the sweet smell of the great outdoors, barley, and a little extra folding money - whatever it was, senate candidate Joe Miller apparently decided after he came to Alaska, he’d try his hand at farming.
Farmer Joe bought himself a thousand acres near Fairbanks. And what did he have a yen to grow on his arable land in the sleepy hollow of Delta Junction? Barley, it would appear.
But life as a farmer/ivy league attorney is tough. Sometimes a feller could use a helping hand. Maybe something like a nice check from… the Federal government! Joe’s misguided intellectual and philosophical purity about how we shouldn’t rely on the federal government for anything did not keep him from making a little extra cash on the side thanks to you the taxpayer. That’s right, Mr. ’Who Needs the Feds?’ may have collected more than $14,000 in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2003, including barley and conservation subsidies.
Joe reminds us all the time about all those bad things that the feds spend their money on – (like more than a third of the economy of the state he wants to represent in the United States Senate). And before you go blaming two giant unnecessary wars and George W. Bush for our financial hardships, Mr. Miller is quick to give us a reality check on his website.
Much of the increase [in federal spending]was not military related, but was caused by a 36% increase in domestic spending levels, including the creation of new government entitlement programs.
The website which documents Miller’s subsidies describes the Direct Payment he received like this (my emphasis is added):
The 1996 Freedom to Farm Act envisioned a move away from subsidized farming and into a free-market system. As a transition, the 1996 farm bill established a direct payment program to wean farmers off the government dole. Payments are based on a formula involving the historic production on a given plot of land in 1986. This set payment goes to the current landowner or farm operator every year. The program has been maintained beyond its intended lifetime and now is a federal entitlement program for farmers that costs the government about $5 billion per year. These payments are usually included in land value estimate, driving up land prices and rents and making it harder for small farmers to expand and new farmers to enter the business.
And then there’s this:
Production Flexibility Contracts:
Farmers must use contract acreage for an agricultural or related activity. Conservation uses, pasture, growing trees, and leaving the land fallow (if weeds are controlled) are all allowed.
Now, I’ve got nothing against Alaska farmers. I love them dearly and support my local growers whenever possible. And without farm subsidies, Alaska would be in a world of hurt. I get it. I simply point out that not only does Joe Miller NOT get it, but he’s perfectly happy to reap the rewards of a system he claims to detest, and then wants to get rid of it for everyone else.
Kind of like the fact that his parents live on Social Security and Medicare, but he wants to cut it off for the generations to come. Or the fact that his kids are home schooled and he wants to abolish the Department of Education.
I wonder if Joe Miller’s neighbors in the barley basket of Delta Junction are going to vote for him, or whether they hate the government too…
The Alaska Dispatch followed up on this story and asked the Miller campaign for a statement:
In an e-mail Thursday evening, DeSota told Alaska Dispatch: “This is a manufactured story from a Democratic blog. Joe has owned land near Delta Junction since 1999, but the land is not under production, and he’s received no federal farm subsidies for it.”
Interesting. Is there another Joe Miller who owns agricultural land in Delta Junction? Is there another Joseph W. Miller who (as reported in the same article) lives in Anchorage and collected payments from a property in Kansas?
Stay tuned for more details as they become available, and I’ll post them here.