Maple Syrup Money
Conservatives like our maple syrup as much as the next person. But is it the place of the federal government to hand out federal taxpayer dollars to encourage the development of maple syrup production on privately held land in upstate New York?
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) thinks so. He has proposed the Maple Tap Act, which he would like to insert into the trillion-dollar farm bill. Sen. Schumer said:
Despite reports that tapping season has begun, hundreds of millions of untapped trees are just sitting there, full of a lucrative natural resource that could propel New York to the top of the maple industry, as well as provide a huge economic boost and new jobs to maple-rich Clinton County.
The program by which this would be accomplished would be run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which conducted a survey of 10 states last year finding that New York ranked second only to Vermont in maple syrup production. And the state has 500 entrepreneurs that produce maple syrup.
This proposal is an indication that Sen. Schumer has little faith in the free market. It is this mindset that contributes to the federal government’s spending problem and consequently to our nation’s debt and deficit.
It’s unclear how much this will stimulate the economy in Clinton County, New York. Moreover, grants and subsidies contribute to government dependence. This is what happened with the farm bill, and “farm subsidies have become one of America’s largest corporate welfare programs.”
Meddling in the free market doesn’t end well.
Farmers who plant more crops receive larger subsidies. This is where the economic logic of farm subsidies falls apart. Subsidies are intended to compensate farmers for low prices that result from an oversupply of crops, but granting larger subsidies to farmers who plant the most crops merely encourages them to plant yet more crops, driving prices even lower and leading to calls for larger subsidies. Furthermore, while paying some farmers to plant more crops, the Conservation Reserve Program pays other farmers to plant fewer crops. One analyst accurately describes U.S. farm policy as “one foot on the brake, one foot on the accelerator.”
As tasty as maple syrup is, it doesn’t justify growing government dependence, debt, and deficits.