The Instigator
askbob
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points
The Contender
headphonegut
Con (against)
Losing
2 Points

Agricultural Subsidies are a waste

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/5/2011 Category: Economics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,336 times Debate No: 16321
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (18)
Votes (3)

 

askbob

Pro

I Affirm that Agricultural subsidies are a massive waste of taxpayer dollars and are essentially the subsidization of a negative externality.

Given:
In this debate the emittance of greenhouse gases are considered to negatively impact society as a whole.

Definitions:

Externality - an effect on a third party (usually the community as a whole) that is not involved in a business transaction.
-positive - benefits the public
- negative - hurts the public

Subsidy -Tax money given to a business/person to artificially create more demand/give to pay for a positive externality created by a transaction.

Argricultural subsidies in the context of my debate are shown to be taxpayer dollars given to farmers so that farmers will not produce crops in the current year. The point is to lessen the supply of crops and thus increase the price, thus making them more profitable for farmers who are producing crops.

EXPLANATION OF WHY FARMING IS A NEGATIVE EXTERNALITY

Farming is a negative externality because it is responsible for producing about 15 to 20 percent of global methane emissions come from livestock. John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution and Diet for a New America, says that methane is 24 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, the culprit normally at the center of global warming discussions.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that animals in the U.S. meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste produced, or five tons for every U.S. citizen. In addition to its impact on climate, hog, chicken and cow waste has polluted some 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

http://www.foodreference.com...

WHY SUBSIDIZING FARMING IS ECONOMICALLY INEFFICIENT AND WHY WE SHOULD TAX FARMING

Subsidizing farming is economically inefficient not only because farming is a negative externality and provides absolutely no benefit to the populous outside its business transaction, but it also pays people to do no work.

If we were to stop subsidizing farming, it would become not as profitable as other industries, thus gradually those seeking to become farmers would choose different career paths and the overall number of farmers would decrease as farmers retire/die. Thus the amount of livestock and crops would lessen in number which would drive the prices of food back to an acceptable profit range that subsidization currently makes possible.

We would not be wasting taxpayer money paying people to not work, we would not be actively supporting global warming with taxpayer dollars, and we would not be paying inflated food prices at the grocery store. More people would be employed/available in the job market. Since the job market would have a larger population, we would see better people employed and thus would experience more productivity for our economy which would produce more tax dollars which could be going to subsidize a positive externality.

Instead of subsidizing agriculture we should be taxing it equivalent with the cost of cleaning up the pollution in methane gas and other forms of pollutants that it produces.
headphonegut

Con

Thank you for starting this debate.

"Agricultural subsidies in the context of my debate are shown to be taxpayer dollars given to farmers so that farmers will not produce crops in the current year. The point is to lessen the supply of crops and thus increase the price, thus making them more profitable for farmers who are producing crops."

While this is true in certain contexts it is also true that subsidies are given to farmers as a cushion for when they had a bad year or when their are disasters like floods, hurricanes, or a freeze that kills the crops. The subsidies are used to control the market if their is a surplus then the farmers don't need to plant. When their are shortages then subsidies are still given to farmers so that they can plant even more.

"Farming is a negative externality because it is responsible for producing about 15 to 20 percent of global methane emissions come from livestock. John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution and Diet for a New America, says that methane is 24 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, the culprit normally at the center of global warming discussions."

I assume the word farming refers to crops my opponent equivocates crops to producing methane however as he pointed out that methane emission comes from livestock. If my opponent referred to farming as livestock then my apologies While I concede that cows are responsible for the most methane emissions that I believe is irrelevant to this debate whether agricultural subsidies are a waste. Agricultural subsidies refers to crops not livestock.

"The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that animals in the U.S. meat industry produce 61 million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human waste produced, or five tons for every U.S. citizen. In addition to its impact on climate, hog, chicken and cow waste has polluted some 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."

I concede to this but I must point out that you are talking about industry (corporation) an entity almost completely free from gov't interference.

"If we were to stop subsidizing farming, it would become not as profitable as other industries, thus gradually those seeking to become farmers would choose different career paths and the overall number of farmers would decrease as farmers retire/die. Thus the amount of livestock and crops would lessen in number which would drive the prices of food back to an acceptable profit range that subsidization currently makes possible."

My opponent has this view that livestock are kept in farms and by decreasing the number of farmers livestock should decrease as well however that is false the number of livestock is not dependent on the number of farmers. Livestock are usually kept nearby factories unless he is talking about dairy farms; however I have dismissed this because my opponent has used the term "livestock" referring to domesticated animals like cows,pigs,horses,chickens, etc.

SUBSIDIZING FARMING IS NECESSARY

I negate that agricultural subsidies are a waste of taxpayer dollars they are in fact necessary making them the opposite of a waste. While my opponent can argue that they are a negative externality he must also ague that agricultural subsidies are in fact a waste.

C1 - Arable Land -

The amount of arable land has decreased in major cities every new building that is made takes away from the amount of arable land for cities with vast expanse of arable land this is not a problem. If the use of land was left up to the "free market" there wouldn't be food or grain left to the community. Market prices for residential and commercial land is way higher than expected earn on farm land. Because of this the gov't must offer incentive in the form of subsidies to have farmers keep and farm the land instead of selling out to development companies. I would like to expound on this point more but time is of the essence.

Thank you once again for starting this debate.
cordially, HPG
Debate Round No. 1
askbob

Pro

"it is also true that subsidies are given to farmers as a cushion for when they had a bad year or when their are disasters like floods, hurricanes, or a freeze that kills the crops. The subsidies are used to control the market if their is a surplus then the farmers don't need to plant. When their are shortages then subsidies are still given to farmers so that they can plant even more."
----------------------------------------------------
So my opponent concurs that taxpayer money is given to citizens who do nothing. He states when "their is a surplus then farmers don't need to plant". He is supposing that crops are currently being produced to point where they are worthless if sold. This is completely incorrect. Currently if there was a "surplus" and farmers decided to produce to their maximum, the price of the goods would simply fall. Not to zero.

It's self evident. People are starving in other countries. A higher supply of crops would merely mean more consumption at a lower price. it's a simple shifting of the supply curve to the right.

Furthermore, let's suppose that by some divine miracle, the US was producing so many crops that the price of crops was nearly at zero. Instead of paying the farmers TO DO NOTHING, we should be paying them nothing, allowing them to find new jobs that provide utility to the economy that would be profitable.

What we are doing is essentially using taxpayer dollars for someone to dig a hole and then fill it. Someone sitting on their butt and doing nothing provides absolutely no utility to the populace as a whole.

Not only is the US government paying for absolutely nothing, but even if they were producing crops, it is still a waste of taxpayer dollars, because the crops produce no extra utility outside of their business transaction. Farmers are already compensated for their services through the payment of the customer. If this is not profitable then workers should find a new industry that is profitable to work in.
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"I assume the word farming refers to crops my opponent equivocates crops to producing methane however as he pointed out that methane emission comes from livestock."

"Agricultural" or "farming" are a general terms used to refer to things that are produced on a farm. Agricultural subsidies also go to purely dairy farms as well as farms that produce purely crops. $295 Million dollars are appropriated toward diary farms in the US. These farms produce the methane gas and water pollution that was mentioned in the opening round, thus they are relevant in the statement that agriculture can be a negative externality.

In addition it is not only livestock that produce pollution.

According to 1998 EPA data, agricultural pollution is the leading cause of water quality impairment in lakes, streams and rivers. Agricultural pollution is the fifth leading cause of water quality impairment in estuaries.
(Source: U.S. EPA brochure - PDF)

Nutrients from fertilizers and manure travel from Midwest farm states down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, causing a massive "dead zone" on the Louisiana coast. The nutrients, including nitrogen and phosporous, trigger a process whereby excess algael growth and decomposition reduces oxygen levels in the water, killing fish, shrimp, crabs and other sea life in an area nearly 8,000 square miles in size. Farm fertilizers contribute 50 percent of this nutrient pollution. Livestock manure contributes another 15 percent and municiple and industrial sources account for 11 percent.
(Source: American Rivers)

"I concede to this but I must point out that you are talking about industry (corporation) an entity almost completely free from gov't interference."

A corporation is not completely free from government interference (See: the FDA on literally every medication on the market produced by corporations)

My opponent has this view that livestock are kept in farms and by decreasing the number of farmers livestock should decrease as well however that is false the number of livestock is not dependent on the number of farmers. Livestock are usually kept nearby factories unless he is talking about dairy farms; however I have dismissed this because my opponent has used the term "livestock" referring to domesticated animals like cows,pigs,horses,chickens, etc.

I do not have that view, I don't know how you came to think that. By eliminating agricultural subsidies, the taxpayer will not have to pay for something that is not only not a positive externality (fireworks, public water fountains) but really is a negative externality (pollution).

I negate that agricultural subsidies are a waste of taxpayer dollars they are in fact necessary making them the opposite of a waste. While my opponent can argue that they are a negative externality he must also ague that agricultural subsidies are in fact a waste.

Paying for something that has no benefit and is actually harmful is a waste. They are not necessary for anything and my opponent has not given even the smallest amount of evidence that they are necessary for anything.

If the use of land was left up to the "free market" there wouldn't be food or grain left to the community.

I want to see a mathematical proof or logical reasoning how people would rather have a house than eat.
headphonegut

Con

thank you.
R1
I do concur that taxpayer money is given to farmers who are paid not to plant but they are also given to farmers so they can plant more. my opponent makes an assumption and says I am making a concession to equating surplus with such an overproduction of crops that the crops themselves have no cost, I can see how he made that jump (wait no I can't). The US made a reform to farm policy in 1996 establishing a subsidy programs in which their are payments made to farmers once prices fall below a floor price aka the loan rate, which is set by our law makers (congress). My opponent is saying that these payments encourage overproduction, generating surpluses that are then dumped on the market at prices well below the cost of production. My opponent then I would say reasons that reducing subsidies would curb overproduction and boost prices.

Inflation in the US is a problem even with farmers when we take a look at the farm sector over say a bunch of years (60) a few things stand out that prices have declined steadily over the sixty years and that the price decline since 1996 has been far less severe than in previous years, this suggest that their are other factors contributing to the decline. In 1998 a upsurge occurred in subsidy payments in response to falling prices, not the other way around. And prices fell not because of subsidies but remaining vestiges of supply management programs were phased out in 1996 this lead to increased competitive pressure on the supply side of the market. Overproduction refers to a situation in which current supply exceeds current demand. Excess inventories accumulate, and prices fall. If overproduction caused the longer-term price decline, we would expect to see excess inventories rising as prices fall. But inventories (in relation to usage) have remained constant or fallen for all major commodity crops (corn, rice, wheat, soy, and cotton) since the early 1980s. Thus falling prices do not appear to be caused by overproduction, either before or after the 1996 subsidies were enacted. And (with the possible exception of cotton), this data offers no compelling evidence that subsidies as such are causing stocks to rise.

A business would observe another business getting to know it's competition. they tend to avoid price competition, using non-price means to increase their market share. However the farm sector is different. they will not, as a rule, respond to falling prices by taking land out of production that is, working to raise prices by limiting supply. Just the opposite: confronted with falling prices, farmers will attempt to increase output in hopes of offsetting falling per-unit revenues by a higher total volume of unit sales. Failure to do so will put them out of business sooner rather than later.

So the normal operation of the market which aggregates the decisions of many individuals is for lower prices to trigger higher output, leading to even lower prices. The farmer’s imperative to cover fixed costs, and the fact that farmers generally do not coordinate their individual actions prior to bringing their goods to market, gives rise to the seeming irrationality of farmers’ responding to falling prices by trying to increase output. And since the demand for most food goods is relatively unresponsive to price, a significant decline in price may be required to clear the market of excess supply. Thus the overall price level tends consistently downwards and buyers’ expectations of what they will have to pay adjust ever downward, too.

R2
"Agricultural" or "farming" are a general terms used to refer to things that are produced on a farm. Agricultural subsidies also go to purely dairy farms as well as farms that produce purely crops. $295 Million dollars are appropriated toward diary farms in the US. These farms produce the methane gas and water pollution that was mentioned in the opening round, thus they are relevant in the statement that agriculture can be a negative externality."

Ok so I concede that it is a negative externality how is it a waste though that's what this debate is about. And agricultural pollution is caused not by all farms or most farms but by the biggest farms the 20% of them that usually get favor to subsidies. A small farm however they devote about 17% of their land area to woodlands and keep as much of their land in soil improving uses. They maintain soil fertility on the farm which means an active interest in long term sustainability.

-deadness-
The process you're referring to I assume is eutrophication which their is a "boom" in the feed of algea (nitrates and phosphates) so they reproduce like wabbits. So algae increases and the river look reddish for a while until they die and that's bad because they are literally took up all the dissolved oxygen when they die they take the oxygen with them. While this is very sad and very bad. Why is it important to this debate? why is it at all relevant? the topic is "Agriculutural subsidies are a waste."

Paying for something that has no benefit and is actually harmful is a waste. They are not necessary for anything and my opponent has not given even the smallest amount of evidence that they are necessary for anything.
Debate Round No. 2
askbob

Pro


A business would observe another business getting to know it's competition. they tend to avoid price competition, using non-price means to increase their market share. However the farm sector is different. they will not, as a rule, respond to falling prices by taking land out of production that is, working to raise prices by limiting supply. Just the opposite: confronted with falling prices, farmers will attempt to increase output in hopes of offsetting falling per-unit revenues by a higher total volume of unit sales. Failure to do so will put them out of business sooner rather than later.

Since when do businesses avoid competition? This is completely innaccurate. The farming sector will respond to profit not prices. If it becomes unprofitable to be a farmer, then people will stop becoming farmers, sell their land, and retrain in a new industry. Increasing output produces more profit. So the general effect of removing agricultural subsidies will be lower prices for the consumer and a more efficient use of the farming land that is profitable. If demand for farming products is relatively inelastic to the price (which it is not) then farming will become unprofitable and we will have less farmers which will reduce the supply in the long term.

My opponent is also completely ignoring goods which are elastic to price(ethanol, soda, ice cream, etc.)


So the normal operation of the market which aggregates the decisions of many individuals is for lower prices to trigger higher output, leading to even lower prices.

I don't seem to see a problem, more efficient farms and lower prices for the consumer.

Ok so I concede that it is a negative externality how is it a waste though that's what this debate is about.

Paying money for a negative externality is by definition a waste of taxpayer money. Another example would be like saying the government is using your tax money to produce more pollution with no other benefit. It would be a complete waste of your money, because the government could be using that same money to build public water fountains, maintain roads. Anything that benefits the taxpayer.

The governement is spending taxpayer money to pollute the rivers, streams, kill fish, boost methane content in the air, etc. This is a waste of the taxpayer dime when it could be used to do something that actually benefits the taxpayer (positive externality) or just not used in the absence of a positive externality to subsidize (less to pay in taxes) and thus be used by the taxpayer for consumption which would provide greater utility than pollution.

Do you not see that from a taxpayer perspective spending tax money on something that harms the general tax payer is a waste?


I have shown that Agricultural subsidies are a negative externality. My opponent has conceded this point. Negative Externalities are waste by definition. Therefore Agricultural subsidies are a waste of taxpayer money.

Taxes are used (or are meant to be used) to benefit the taxpayer. If they are harming the taxpayer or not benefiting the taxpayer, then they are being wasted.
headphonegut

Con

"Since when do businesses avoid competition? This is completely innaccurate. The farming sector will respond to profit not prices. If it becomes unprofitable to be a farmer, then people will stop becoming farmers, sell their land, and retrain in a new industry. Increasing output produces more profit. So the general effect of removing agricultural subsidies will be lower prices for the consumer and a more efficient use of the farming land that is profitable. If demand for farming products is relatively inelastic to the price (which it is not) then farming will become unprofitable and we will have less farmers which will reduce the supply in the long term.

My opponent is also completely ignoring goods which are elastic to price(ethanol, soda, ice cream, etc.)"

Generally they don't but as explained above every kind of business is different I'm ignoring them because they're irrelevant and because you ignored them as well

"I don't seem to see a problem, more efficient farms and lower prices for the consumer."

That's why subsidies are necessary they keep prices down.



"Paying money for a negative externality is by definition a waste of taxpayer money. Another example would be like saying the government is using your tax money to produce more pollution with no other benefit. It would be a complete waste of your money, because the government could be using that same money to build public water fountains, maintain roads. Anything that benefits the taxpayer.

The governement is spending taxpayer money to pollute the rivers, streams, kill fish, boost methane content in the air, etc. This is a waste of the taxpayer dime when it could be used to do something that actually benefits the taxpayer (positive externality) or just not used in the absence of a positive externality to subsidize (less to pay in taxes) and thus be used by the taxpayer for consumption which would provide greater utility than pollution.

Do you not see that from a taxpayer perspective spending tax money on something that harms the general tax payer is a waste?

I have shown that Agricultural subsidies are a negative externality. My opponent has conceded this point. Negative Externalities are waste by definition. Therefore Agricultural subsidies are a waste of taxpayer money.

Taxes are used (or are meant to be used) to benefit the taxpayer. If they are harming the taxpayer or not benefiting the taxpayer, then they are being wasted."

This is the point I couldn't get to last round sorry. You equate agricultural subisides with being the cause of pollution. Throughout this entire debate I have conceded that their are green house gases and that cows contribute to that eutrophication is a very bad thing however what does that have to do with agricultural subsidies with money? you have connected them at all you simply can't say that agricultural subsidies aren't a waste economically but they contribute to global warming the subsidies don't do anything except maybe kill a few trees but most of the oxygen in the worldcomes from the ocean. The gov't is giving money to farmers which in turn may pollute the earth. Your argument isn't the money given to them is a waste, your argument is the money given to the farmers which they then use to pollute the earth is a waste.

A man buys a gun from a store and kills his wife should the gun be put in jail? maybe the guy who sold him the gun could be put in jail, the guy who did the killing should go to jail, but the gun didn't do anything it did what it was meant to do kill that's all. the money given via subsidies to farmers do what they are meant to do keep prices down for those who cannot afford to buy food at high prices.

And a public water fountain doesn't really help people at all unless they're going to die from thirst in fact most water fountains are disease ridden. And not to mention how many people have died because of road maintanance.

my opponent says the gov't are litterally using money to kill ecosystems that's false. It is a negative externality when that happens however it's the pesticides that we use to kill certain diseases in our food would my opponent have us die instead?

Debate Round No. 3
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
I have not had that problem with the new version.

I was going to proxy vote bomb this for Thaddeus with an empty RFD, a joke which would only be funny to me.
Posted by headphonegut 5 years ago
headphonegut
That's the one lol effing firefox
Posted by Grape 5 years ago
Grape
I've never taken an economics course either except for the one I'm in that doesn't really count. Fortunately there is Wikipedia, online journals, books (often free online), people, people from the internet, and in other words an infinite repository of knowledge at my fingertips.

Google "positive externality" a see what comes up
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Which browser, I the same problem with the last version of Firefox.
Posted by headphonegut 5 years ago
headphonegut
yea
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
What are you using to write the post, is it in the browser directly?
Posted by headphonegut 5 years ago
headphonegut
sorry it wouldn't let me finish every time I clicked review the dang thing would delete like 3,000 characters
Posted by headphonegut 5 years ago
headphonegut
nuh huh
Posted by mongeese 5 years ago
mongeese
hpg, have you ever taken an Economics course?
Posted by headphonegut 5 years ago
headphonegut
rawr
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Cobo 5 years ago
Cobo
askbobheadphonegutTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: COUNTER vote
Vote Placed by darkkermit 5 years ago
darkkermit
askbobheadphonegutTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: CON had many grammar mistakes. PRO showed through basic economic analysis how agricultural subsidies are a waste. CON conceded that agricultural creates pollution.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
askbobheadphonegutTied
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Total points awarded:12 
Reasons for voting decision: The contention of negative externality was strongly supported and at times it seemed as if Con was not 100 sure what this meant exactly. 1 pt to Pro, however the fact that they are a waste was often asserted without a lack of support especially for the predicted and advocated claims. The argument by Pro was in general stronger however not enough to satisfy the BoP, especially considering the very strong demand for "waste" instead of "less than ideal", etc. 2 pt to Con