John Stossel: Do Government Farming Subsidies Hurt American Farmers?

Real estate agents even use farm payments to sell homes to nonfarmers. Agents didn't want to say that on television, so a "20/20" producer posed as a home buyer and brought along a video camera.

The three homes "20/20" visited that were for sale all got farm payments, even though nothing was farmed there. One of the homes hadn't been farmed in the last 20 years, but that hasn't stopped that homeowner from cashing in.

"This is just a crazy system," said David Boaz of the Libertarian Cato Institute. "It's left over from the 1930s, left over from the Depression. And it's a great example of how nothing is as permanent as a temporary government program."

Douglas Nelson, another Nebraska farmer, agreed.

"I think any time is a good time to pull the plug on subsidies of any industry," he said. "It's not a very efficient program."

Time to Pull Out?

Although Nelson depends on subsidies for farming, he's willing to risk going out of business if Congress ever decides to get rid of farm subsidies.

And without subsidies, some farms probably will go out of business. But "that's okay," Williams said. It's that kind of creative destruction that makes America strong.

"When there's progress, certain jobs are destroyed and certain jobs are created," he said. "The guy who used to deliver ice to my house no longer has that job. If we had tried to save his job, America would have been held back."

There is one country that abolished farm subsidies -- New Zealand. There were riots and protests when they did that. Farmers said they'd go bankrupt. People said they'd starve.

But it didn't happen.

In fact, farm productivity quintupled. After the politicians got out of the way, New Zealand farmers found ways to be more efficient and make more money.

Lee said farmers are grateful for the farm bill. She said they visit her office all the time, thanking her for allowing their family farm to survive.

But clothing and shelter are important, too. Why not subsidize them?

Lee's response? "You don't want to push us."

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