May 22, 2009
COMMENTS With one arm


Washington, D.C., is a busy place and the volume of legislation going through there is overwhelming.

Too much for my liking. The irony is that most of it is overwhelmingly stupid. It’s no secret that we live in a global economy; that’s just the way it is. Passing free trade agreements is vital to growing this economy and putting folks back to work. Much of the legislation being bandied about is nuts given the current economic circumstances, and if some of this stuff goes through, it will be like asking our high output economy to compete with both arms tied behind our back. The government is mindlessly attempting to raise the cost of production on just about every product made in the U.S., which will certainly send more business overseas.

Climate legislation and the proposal of cap and trade of carbon credits is a prime example. It will affect everyone by creating higher energy prices.

Many of the nations we compete with will have an advantage over us because they won’t pass similar laws. I’m still not convinced there is a problem regarding climate change, and the debate isn’t over. But, the government is headstrong on cap and trade. It’s hard to imagine legislators being prepared to turn our economy upside down on a hunch.

I’ve been told by many university professors that there is more probability of global cooling than global warming. Also, it appears that agriculture is the stepchild that could suffer the unintended consequences of this lame concept. Higher fuel costs, higher fertilizer costs, and more restrictions on water will result in lower food production. In many cases, agricultural groups have capitulated to the carbon credit gurus and are now concerned about how they can capture carbon credits to trade and make a buck. The Clean Water Act, which is still in committee, is another piece of bizarre legislation and it’s hard for me to understand why the federal government needs to have control over each little mud hole and seasonal stream. We all know that your land will be worthless if you don’t have water, which is why water rights were established. They are private property. This is all done in the name of the environment, but having ultimate control of every high mountain stream and anything that is wet is insane. Once they have control over your water, they have control over you and your private property. I’m not trying to establish some grand conspiracy theory, but it does make you wonder.

A lot of private property went dry and is out of production in California because of the smelt population in the Sacramento River Delta. There is much debate whether or not the fish is even endangered and the effects of the Endangered Species Act are destroying other industries, not just agriculture.

Remember the spotted owl and the economic damage that little bird created when it wasn’t endangered at all? Think about Proposition 2 in California, a ballot issue which banned the use of battery cages for egg producers. Egg producers will have some time to comply to the law, but I’d imagine that there aren’t a lot of capital improvements going on at egg farms.

The next step will be to move them down to Mexico. We also need to throw in the National Animal Identification System. This is a very costly program and at the end of the day, it will add costs to production and won’t have any real benefit to disease reduction. But, it’s in danger of becoming a law under the guise of food safety.

It’s just hard to understand why we create all these laws to make a few people feel better while at the same time, we’re expected to compete in a global market. This affects all industry, not just agriculture. If we continue down this road of intense regulation and pass sweeping laws based on hunches, it will have serious social and economic consequences.

American industry is not afraid to compete, but it isn’t right when your own government ties your hands behind your back and then expects you to compete with low-cost producers like China or Brazil where there are few restrictions on producers in an open market. — PETE CROW