Should the Federal Government subsidize American agriculture?

Here are a few reasons to answer "yes."

1. No nation can achieve national security if it is a net food importer. A nations's "agricultural infrastructure" must be maintained. So long as "free trade" results in the importation of cheaper food products from abroad, then some sort of subsidy may be needed. We could, of course, use import controls as a sort of indirect subsidy.

2. Excessive concentration in any one sector of the economy is bad, be it monopoly or oligarchy. Allowing a situation to develop in which a handful of agribusiness corporations create an effective oligarchy (say, 80% of one production area) could allow many bad things to happen. We can all boycott Detroit for a year if we wish, postponing car buying; we cannot boycott food production for a year. Regulation can only go so far. Subsidies, specifically targeted to small, independent producers, can help prevent this.

3. Within the U.S. we have a system of inspections to try to achieve safe food. We also ban numerous pesticides and herbicides. We also have regulations regarding feed additives for cattle. These safeguards are not present in many of our trading partners. Rather than a direct subsidy, of course, we could use import controls as an indirect subsidy.