Biting hand that feeds you

Published 11:06 am Wednesday, March 13, 2013

by Dell Cotton

There are some old quotes or sayings that come to mind from time to time as we run across different articles or stories in our daily lives.

For me, I recently read or learned of two examples that truly remind me of the saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

First was a proposal in Congress last week that was intended to prevent the sequestration cuts on Friday. In this proposal, cuts were made to help solve the problem but these cuts were in two areas only.

Think about that — out of the entire government only two areas were chosen to receive cuts and in a quantity enough to make a difference in the overall bottom line. The two areas selected were defense and agriculture.

Defense is intended to protect our citizens — enough said.

Within agriculture, the budget spends 80 percent on nutrition and other programs, and 20 percent on crop programs.

Crop expenditures make up less than 1 percent of the total federal outlays. Well, none of the mentioned cuts came from the 80 percent — all were proposed from the 20 percent. Unbelievable.

The second instance came from the editor of a major newspaper who wrote the following: “Farmers are wealthy, the U.S. food supply is not remotely at risk, and yet the government still piles on the subsidies.”

How ludicrous. Yes, there are subsidies in agriculture, but I remind him that just a bit of thought goes into where these subsidies are applicable.

One area mentioned later by the editor is crop insurance, and you may recall that I have written about this before. There is no better testament to the reliability and necessity of crop insurance than the last two crop years. The 2011 growing season saw a tremendous drought in the Southwest, affecting thousands of acres of cotton, wheat, and other crops. The 2012 growing season saw this extreme drought shift to the Midwest, where it significantly affected corn, wheat and soybeans.

Yes, some of yours and my tax money subsidizes a portion of the crop insurance rate so the farmer can afford to purchase it. To me that is my insurance that I will have that food on the shelf the next time I go to the store and that the farmer will be in business another year to grow his crops that are used to make that product.

It is a fact that crop insurance kept many Southwest and Midwest farmers going the last two years. Does it bother me that some of my tax money was used for that reason? Not a bit.

And no, I don’t believe in biting the hand that literally feeds me. That hand may not be there the next time I go to the store, or get ready to prepare a meal.

DELL COTTON is manager of the Peanut Growers Cooperative Marketing Association. He can be reached at