John Steward of Jesus
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Farmers Without Debt

April 11, 1985

Much is being said about the “unfair” competition which comes from countries where farmers can produce with lower costs.

(Congressman) Berkley Bedell recently described conditions in South America. Bedell notes that farmers in Argentina are getting $3 per bushel for soybeans and $1.50 for corn. The government imposes a 25% tax on the export of grain. “In spite of that, one company was going to pay the tax, ship the wheat to the U.S., and undersell us.”

In explaining the situation, Bedell says, “Their farmers have not been able to borrow money because their economy is in such bad shape. Consequently, all the farmers own their own land and they don’t have interest or debt costs. If all our farmers owned their own land, we could produce crops a lot cheaper, too.”

How simple the differences are.

In Argentina:
(1) Farmers are not able to borrow money.
(2) Consequently, all the farmers own their own land.
(3) Farmers don’t have interest or debt costs.
(4) Farmers can produce and sell crops for lower prices.

In America:
(1) Farmers have borrowed great amounts of credit.
(2) Consequently, farmers do not own their own land.
(3) Farmers have great interest and debt costs.
(4) Farmers, to survive, must be paid higher prices for their crops.

It is better to have no debts on the land, no interest payments, and lower prices, or to have debts on the land, high interest payments, and higher prices?

It depends on whether the answer comes from the common sense of farmers and consumers, or from the sophisticated theories of lenders and their economists.