The U.S. government paid $20 million in subsidies to the Cotton Council International, a cotton industry trade association. Why? So that the outfit can advertise abroad.
When foreigners buy more cotton from American cotton producers, the cotton is shipped out of the country. This leaves less cotton domestically for Americans to buy.
Is this a rotten deal for taxpayers? You bet it is.
Is this a rotten deal for Americans who want to wear cotton clothing? You bet it is.
Is this a good deal for cotton growers? You bet it is.
Will it keep happening? You bet it will.
Which agency wrote the checks? The U.S. Department of Agriculture.
It’s part on the Market Access Program. It supports lots of trade associations, not just cotton. It pays for advertising, research, technical assistance and junkets — excuse me: travel.
“This program plays a role in keeping the demand for cotton strong,” said Allen A. Terhaar, executive director of the council.
You see, without taxpayer funding, cotton would not be strong. You wouldn’t want that, would you? Weak cotton? The thought is terrifying.
If cotton gets weak, the terrorists have won!
How much money is involved in all of this support for advertising in foreign nations? About $200 million a year.
Compared to a deficit of $1.2 trillion, it’s peanuts.
There is also support for peanuts.
This money has not been wasted. It went to fund a manual for pet owners in Japan. Japan, a backward Third World nation, needs manuals of all kinds.
There was also a class at a Mexican culinary school to teach chefs how to cook rice for Mexican consumers.
Can you imagine other uses for your share of the money? Congress thinks otherwise.
Lobbyists agree entirely.
“We think it’s well justified,” said Jay Howell, a lobbyist who coordinates the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports, the industry’s effort to keep the program financed. “It has helped lots of people around the country in small towns and rural communities.”
Mr. Howell and other supporters point to a 2010 study by the Agriculture Department showing that for every dollar that government and industry spend on promotion, agricultural exports increase by $35
Another study by the Department says that pigs can fly under certain conditions (e.g., Level 5 tornadoes). It has not been released.
The Obama Administration wants the money spent to promote smaller companies. It also wants to make sure big companies do not indirectly benefit as members of trade associations.
If you believe this, you might as well believe in Obama’s Photoshopped birth certificate.
Sunkist, Welch’s and Blue Diamond are cooperatives owned by farmers and are eligible for government funds for their promotions abroad. The companies received more than $6 million last year, with about $4 million going to Sunkist alone.
These subsidies have weathered the fiscal storm for decades. There have always been narrow-minded, tight-0fisted critics in Congress, but they have not been successful.
American industry cannot compete, we are told by industrial lobbyists. We need to make strong companies through endless tax subsidies.
It’s the American way.