Monday, July 28, 2008

Dismal agriculture

Freakonomics, an economics blog on the New York Times, has an interview with University of California-Davis agricultural economist Daniel Sumner. Some of the reader-supplied questions are a little off the wall (one reader wants the government to require every American to garden), but it's still fascinating. To sum up, he says biofuel mandates have significantly increased the cost of food, organic food is great for the rich but not for average consumers, local isn't always good for the environment, and he's no fan of farm subsidies:

This rationale, or rationalization, for farm subsidies makes no sense. Farming is a long-run business and there is no reason to think the government is better at regulating the markets for farm commodities than are the farmers and other who are in the business and have strong incentives to use storage, forward pricing, lines of credit, and the like to deal with commodity markets.

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