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Farm Subsidies in the U.S.

June 12, 1988

You continue to echo the thought that farm subsidies are evil and must be eliminated ("Farm Summitry, Too," editorial, May 31). What you are really saying is that you would like to see the American farm disappear with most of our food being imported. You know that a degree of control with pesticide use is lost for food produced in some other nations. That is only one part of the problem.

The argument that consumers would benefit from elimination of subsidies must be extended to other segments of the economy. Consumers would also benefit if American newspapers, medical doctors, lawyers, plumbers and other goods and services used by farmers and others were reduced to the world price.

The national defense budget is around $300 billion per year, and we quarrel about the $17.7 billion subsidy to insure that the food-producing system remains stable. The $17.7 billion may be more important than the $300 billion.

You cite Japan as a country not willing to lose its farms to international competition. I am sure the Japanese worry far more about food security than they do about the local price of rice.

Food is already a bargain in the United States--more so than in the rest of the world where in many countries people pay up to three times or more the percent of their income for food than we do. We already are willing to pay more than we do as indicated by the fact that we spend $120 billion per year in restaurants in this country. That is almost seven times the food subsidy bill.

It is correct that agriculture worldwide is in chaos, much of which results from governmental manipulation. The ills do need intelligent correction.

ARTHUR WALLACE

Los Angeles

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