Home DebtStudent Loan debt Department of Agriculture Wants Farmers to Grow Two Crops a Year: I'm From the Government, and I'm Here to Help

Department of Agriculture Wants Farmers to Grow Two Crops a Year: I'm From the Government, and I'm Here to Help

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The world's grain supplies are threatened by the war in Ukraine, one of the world's largest wheat producers. In fact, Ukraine and Russia together produce a quarter of the world's wheat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, always ready to lend its expertise, wants farmers to start growing two crops yearly instead of one to help meet the global demand for grain.

Those dumb farmers. It's a good thing that the federal government is telling them what to do, or we'd probably all starve to death.

But here's the thing. American farmers are already doing everything they can to maximize the productivity of their land. In Louisana, some farmers are harvesting crawfish in their rice fields. Alfalfa farmers get anywhere from four to six cuttings a year–depending on rainfall and weather conditions.

My father farmed winter wheat in the Washita valley of southwestern Oklahoma. He planted in the fall and harvested in the early summer. And, like wheat farmers all over the United States, he often planted a second crop after plowing the wheat stubble.

Here's my point. Centralized control of agriculture can be dangerous. Stalin tried to control grain production in Ukraine in the 1920s by driving small farmers off their land and forcing them onto collective farms.

The result of Stalin's policies? Almost four million Ukrainians starved to death, and collective farms produced less grain than independent farmers.

You can read about this sad episode, commonly called the Holodomor, in Anne Applebaum's book, Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine. Mr. Jones, a 2019 movie starring James Norton, also tells the story of the Holodomor.

I don't think American farmers will suffer from federal agricultural policies like the Ukrainian kulaks did. Nevertheless, we should be skeptical of news stories that tout the wisdom of national farm policies as if the farmers in flyover country don't know what in the hell they're doing.

In fact, farmers are among the few people in America who do know what they're doing. We would all be better off if we had more farmers in Congress and fewer lawyers.

I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.

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