Charles A. Lindbergh Memorial Lecture: Resolved, The Fate of Farming Should Be Determined in the Marketplace - Closing Statements

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Harold Breimyer, extension economist emeritus at the University of Missouri; and Bruce Gardner, professor of Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, provide closing statements at Charles A. Lindbergh Memorial Lecture Series at St. Cloud State University. They both participated in debate titled “Resolved: The Fate of Farming Should Be Determined in the Marketplace.”

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(00:00:00) I don't think I will use the five minutes. I'm more interested to hear from you people what questions you want to raise. Furthermore I told you at the beginning I was slightly ill at ease. Because I wasn't sure I wasn't that I was quite as interested in in a debate confrontation as I wasn't getting some observations exposed just as I use my last question to get dr. Gardner to join with me on a I think a very major point about the present situation in agriculture in the terms of financing. Is an issue separate and apart from the commodity programs that will go in in 1985 Farm building and very sad mistake to confuse the two. I am obviously person after 52 years when I might be justified 52 years of service. I might be justified in in being somewhat skeptical. I couldn't quite understand that here. I have the greater faith in what we can do in as a public generally and dr. Gardner has somewhat less confidence or maybe feels less this less desirable to usually the public instrument and he of course he isn't is consistent with the time. I am more out of pace with the present climate. I regret the present climate. I think there's some risk in them. I think we have so many neat major problems that the present climate encourages us to disregard we can a mother's we haven't mentioned International deaf deaths international trade and alarming Situation that affects Agriculture and it hasn't even come up because our topic is the Family Farm to some extent were engaging in semantics. And if to that degree, perhaps we both should apologize or at least I should I think as the semantics that I just have trouble. Using the image of the market as their way to address questions that I would rather phrase in other contexts and how their terms and very suspicious that the term Market is used because it's one of those good sounding words that tend to disguise and to slant or the upper words. I said at the beginning The last comment is the throwing my voice first comment. I'm just the highest regard that you people come out in the beautiful morning. When you forget other things to do to talk about a subject in which it's rather hard to be real optimistic. We don't mind coming out and arousing know go and get them and here's the answer. Let's go do it the issues in agriculture. These days are extremely difficult. And since I don't think my five minutes are quite up (00:02:41) yet. I hope they aren't. (00:02:45) It's a human issue. It has to do with human aspirations of people aren't from merchandising. The present situation is it's defeatism. For a great many very capable Farmers. We're trying to provide produce food and fiber for all of us and because of circumstances beyond their control or finding it impossible and it may be that one reason why I feel as I do and take the stands. I do my father and my family went through that in the 1920s and I remember the emotional trauma and that did not go to see the movies are Sissy Spacek and the others because I couldn't stay away. I couldn't tolerate the emotion that goes where he defeated on the sense of defeat. The companies that change from a farm Outlook that few years ago was promising to one that now seems almost hopeless. I do think this in the area the public Arena even though I want to be on record my last comment there's this I do not mean to say Bruce that every farmer in trouble can be spared. I think there's a role for public instruments, you know, the selective basis not letting the Farm Credit Administration go down the tube and trying to preserve something close to a traditional (00:04:04) structure. (00:04:07) Dr. Gardner you now have five (00:04:08) minutes for your closing statement. (00:04:12) Okay. I'm not sure I have five minutes worth here. But let me just respond to one thread that runs through your remarks. Dr. Brian Mayer that that I don't accept and that is you're saying really I think some points and I'm taking sort of here a romantic are unrealistic view of the market using it as a per word to stand for things that are good so forth I fully admit there are a lot of problems with markets and I don't see them as a Panacea for all problems or anything like that, but I would say rather than Basing what I'm saying on a over optimistic view of markets. I'm rather relying on a realistic view of government and what it can do and I say that you're sort of per word is this idea of public purpose. It's not so clear how you find this public purpose and especially I agree with the remarks you were making about the the market for for politics and for political influence given the way that policy is made. It's not clear that what is in Farmers interest or any other widely dispersed interest is going to be successful in the policy process. So I have some skepticism about How much you can really rely on that process is working. I wouldn't call it. You can't make the term market so broad that it covers everything. I would like to retain a turned Market to cover the private arrangements and the public purpose side includes the good things that government can do and the problems that arise in public Choice also. And so it's with that in background in mind that. That I conclude that that letting the market determined the fate of farming well in some adjustment period it will be costly for producers of protected Commodities the next few years it over the longer term. I think commercial scale farming would be just as viable without the protections at the level we've had in the 81 farm bill and a consumers and taxpayers would be better off in both the short run and the long run without these programs or at least with them back and while it's true that there are several reasonable arguments against complete laissez-faire that is a complete lack of any intervention namely the lack of free markets internationally the role of government and causing some of the problems that we see in agriculture today. The instability you mentioned in unregulated commodity markets the lack of farmers bargaining power. I see these all is real problems, but I don't see that the traditional and current commodity programs are in any way inappropriate response to these problems. And finally I'd say that that I don't say that we should move immediately to abandon all these programs. And in fact, none of the bills that are now being considered by the House and Senate. None of them proposed this they all though proposed some change from the current types of programs. We have on a gradual basis as you were saying perhaps with some sort of transition payments, which is the key mechanism in the boschwitz and born Bill, but it seems to me that these sorts of steps that do put us on a somewhat different track in farm policy than we've been on our a much-needed and desirable change.


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