I also find a transcript from the Farm Bill Forum at the 2005 State Fair which includes Van Gerpen's rejection of farm subsidies. Mr. Van Gerpen is addressing USDA Undersecretary Tom Dorr and a question posed by moderator Michelle Rook: "[H]ow should farm policy be designed to effectively and fairly distribute assistance to producers?"
Mr. Secretary and Michele, I am Ed Van Gerpen from Avon which is about 100 miles south here, Avon, South Dakota, Bon Homme County. I farm with my two sons. I’ve been farming for about 50 years. As I look back we’ve had about every imaginable farm program you could have. So I guess I’m not overly optimistic that you are going to come up with the ultimate Farm Bill.
I find that as I talk to people more and more that they say the only thing we haven’t tried is no Farm Bill. And I personally would be one vote in favor of no Farm Bill as far as subsidies is concerned. But I think we need to be involved in the disaster part of it.
I would also like to center on question number three as far as payments. Yesterday I was in northwest Iowa and I know Mr. Secretary, you are familiar with that area, they raise excellent crops there in Sioux County. And this dairyman had just finished cutting silage and he says, one field he went and got his LDP, and he got 40 cents a bushel and the corn made 200, so he got $80 an acre subsidy on that excellent crop.
Where I live, we are in the dry area this year and our corn will maybe make 30, 40 bushel. If I would get that same LDP payment, I would get $16. Now, he was actually making fun of it. He says, “I don’t need that $80.” He says, “I’m getting a really good crop this year.” And I think that just shows some of the inconsistencies of the Farm Bill. The higher crops you raise, it seems like the more money you make when it’s just reversed. So I think the government should be involved with the disaster end of it, but not the subsidy part of it.
And I guess another reason I’m so against the subsidy part of it, I have a list here of the payments from 1995 to 2003. And that’s available on the Internet. But the tenth, number ten, nationwide was Ducks Unlimited in Cordova, California. They received $20,391,000. Now, how can that possibly happen in a Farm Bill, Ducks Unlimited receives that kind of money?
Thank you, Mr. Secretary [Edward Van Gerpen, Transcript of the South Dakota Farm Bill Forum with Under Secretary for Rural Development Tom Dorr and Moderator Michele Rook of WNAX, South Dakota State Fair Huron, South Dakota, 2005.09.07].
And thank you, Mr. Van Gerpen, for you forthrightness on one of the biggest examples of big government interference in South Dakota's free market.
Now tell me again, why haven't we heard similar forthrightness on this issue from our Republican candidate for U.S. House? (I can think of 3,058,152 reasons.)