Old joke: An employee at the Dept of Agriculture is crying in the employee cafeteria. A co-worker comes by and asks him what is wrong and why is he so upset?
Answer: My farmer died!
Without question the Department of Agriculture needs to be dismantled. It’s not a particularly large Department. It only runs at a $149 Billion a year which, in the era of a $18 Trillion debt, is cheap. But the fact is that its $149 Billion spent on what is unquestionably the most useless Department in the Cabinet. If the Republicans are serious about cutting the budget and lowering the debt then killing this department is unquestionably a symbolic must (populist however love this boondoggle and don’t think about killing it–Teddy, looking at you).
What few legitimate functions the Department does serve could easily be taken up by the private sector or state governments with greater efficiency and lower costs (and on a few of those private sectors ones, the Federal government could actually make some money by leaving the issues to the private sector).
Don’t believe me? Well let’s take a look at all the divisions of the Department.
Agricultural Marketing Service: As the name suggests it’s government trying to control the market in agriculture. Oh, and this is also the agency that does a bang-up job monitoring bacterial contamination in food (I fail to see how a private agency driven by a good old fashion profit motive competing with other private companies for the same purpose couldn’t do a better job here than government workers who by definition are less qualified and less accountable than their private sector counterparts. You get rid of worthless things like this and the inept FDA I will bet you Safeway, Walmart, Whole Foods, Costco will all immediately create business to do their own checking which will compete with each other and keep each other honest…not to mention the fact that profit motive dictates that customers dying quickly of contaminated food and thus don’t buy more products).
Agricultural Research Service: Research funding into how to make agriculture more effective. Yeah definitely something for the private sector to be doing as by definition research for private business should be on the dime of those businesses not the tax payer.
Animal and Plant Health Service: This division does a lot of wonderfully useless things. My favorite being enforcing the Honeybee Act which prevents honeybees coming into the US from outside sources (and the way the law reads it doesn’t just mean Africanized honey bees)…didn’t I read somewhere that the bee population is down in the US? Yes I did...but then I read how private sector fixed this problem all on their own (a problem which probably was partly the fault of the government). Makes you wonder how this divisions stupidity may have effected a species that did quite well on its own.…
Center for the Nutrition Policy and Promotion: These are the geniuses who come up with the food pyramid that’s heavy on starch (and you wonder why the nation is so fat), and likes to tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat like a good intrusive government. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that these are also the idiots who have a hand in coming up with the asinine BMI chart that says everyone but size 0 supermodels are obese.
Economic Research Service: Just the word economic in any branch of the government sends chills down my spine. But basically all this department does is collect numbers. Oh and waste tax payer money while collecting numbers, they do that too.
Farm Service Agency: I don’t know a whole lot about farming, but I do know that if there needs to be regulation of farming at some level it shouldn’t go beyond the state level. There is no conceivable reason why we need a federal branch looking into how farms are run. None. Absolutely none.
Food and Nutrition Service: A bunch of welfare handouts that should at least be handled by state governments not the federal government. In an ideal world those state governments would roll those programs themselves back to nothing, but one thing at a time.
Food Safety and Inspection Service: This is this the organization that incompetently looks after the safety of our food along with the FDA (not only do they suck at doing their job, it’s two different agencies that suck at doing this). Trust me if we broke this and the FDA up into two private companies that bid to get the contracts to ensure the safety of food (trust me the supermarkets will invest heavily in these businesses to ensure they never have to make another recall and the bad press that comes with those) then we would have better food and less tax dollars being stolen from us.
Foreign Agricultural Service: WTF? This is the organization that makes international deals for US produce. Why don’t farmers and private traders make these deals? Because government likes to get its stupid fingers into EVERYTHING. I seriously doubt there will be any disasters (and probably fewer starving people in Africa) if we get rid of this waste of an agency.
Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration: This group supposedly regulates the market and encourages competitive trading practices. Read that sentence again. Only the government thinks that it can regulate and increase competition at the same time despite the fact that they are patently opposed to one another.
National Institute of Food and Agriculture: More wasted dollars on research that the private sector could do just as well.
National Agricultural Statistics Service: More number collecting. But a different number collecting group than the other number collecting group in the USDA that is wasting your money. Because why waste you money on one agency that does nothing, when you can get two agencies for the price of two (or twenty knowing federal accounting).
Natural Resource Conservation Service: Because companies and private farmers don’t know how to run their farms for long term profit…oh wait they probably know how to do that better than the government.
Risk Management Agency: More trying to control the market through regulation. Don’t private companies and co-ops have their own risk management? Why do we need to double up on the tax payer’s dollar?
USDA Department for Rural Development: Again this is the private sector’s responsibility, not the governments.
The Forrest Service: First off, why is the Forrest Service not under the Department of the Interior? Secondly with heavy regulation, could we again spin the costs for this off to a private company to tend the forests, make deals with loggers to thin the forest (which needs to be done more if we’re going to avoid these yearly massive fires we have) and shoulder the burden of those massive forest fires.
So private companies that run things for less and with better results to replace the FDA and Forrest Service and maybe a hundred people to enforce regulation via heavy fines for violators now under the Department of the Interior. Shouldn’t cost more than a couple million (maybe even a profit when you figure we’re going to be leasing all that forest land out at a healthy fee).
There is nothing legitimate that this Department does that cannot be done by the private sector. And there is a lot that just doesn’t need to be done. And even more that is being done that shouldn’t. I still can’t figure out which of these useless branches is giving out subsidies to grow tobacco or not grow wheat, but I do know that we give out $20 Billion every year if farm subsidies. Here’s money to grow tobacco which we can then sue the tobacco companies for selling. Here’s money not to grow wheat so we can artificially raise prices (a prime cause of hunger in the third world). Here’ money to grow corn to be turned into ethanol the most worthless alternative fuel in existence because when you factor in the energy and gas required to harvest that corn it comes out to not only being expensive but costing more in fuel than it can produce (government efficiently at its finest). Oh and that’s acreage going to grow corn for ethanol that is not being used to feed people.
This is without question the most useless Department in the government and it needs to go away forever.
So why do I bring this up? I mean this isn’t all that timely a point. Well I bring this up because recently Ted Cruz listed 4 Departments he really feels need to be eliminated…now while I would probably cut it down to only 5 Departments (and give me some time I will detail exactly how I would like that done), Teddy only listed 4 Departments (Education, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, and Commerce)…but not the most reviled of all Departments, the one even more useless than Education, Agriculture? Why would any conservative ever not put Agriculture as one of the first things they would love to kill. Well the answer is Teddy isn’t a conservative, he’s a populist, and in this case a populist pandering at the moment to farmers in Iowa.