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Because the new U.S. farm subsidies vary for different products, farmers may switch to crops with higher subsidies that don’t necessarily reflect what the market wants or needs. According to political columnist Mark Shields, two-thirds of the subsidies will go to only three per cent of American farmers under the current formula.

Ranchers in Texas, for example – President Bush’s home state – will do better than tomato farmers in California. In fact, some columnists have noted that the bulk of the subsidies will go to products produced in the states where the Republican candidate needs a boost in the 2002 Senate race.

The fourth reason farms require subsidies has to do with consumers and the choices we make. If we bought locally produced products wherever possible, even though they might cost a little more than foreign products, we can buck the global trend that has kept prices low and profits low for Canadian farmers.

In many cases organic farmers are doing better than conventional farmers because people are willing to pay more. Also, there aren’t as many layers of middle men to go through to get the food to the consumer – sometimes all it takes is a short truck ride to the local farmer’s market.

The way things work now, you can either pay the farmer fair price up front, or the government will use your tax dollars to basically accomplish the same thing. Who is the middle man there?