For several weeks, farmers have been debating amongst each other the virtue of taking a Market Facilitation Program payment. While some say taking the payment is promoting President Donald Trump’s “bad behavior,” others won’t be farming in 2020 without the money. Others are torn about the decision for personal reasons.
While most producers who are considering forgoing the payments have done their research, Alan Hoskins, of American Farm Mortgage, recommends a deep dive into why you’re planning to refuse them.
“If you are uncertain as to whether you should take the payment, talk to someone you have a lot of faith in from a character perspective before you make your final decision,” he says.
Moreover, make sure you’re not making this decision in hopes that it will shift the political environment--because it won’t.
“Not taking the payment is not going to affect anything politically,” Hoskins says. “Not taking the payment for ethics or internal belief about right or wrong is one thing, but it will not facilitate a change in the political environment.”
Still, there is no amount of money worth compromising personal beliefs, Hoskins says.
“Anytime somebody is doing something that potentially makes them uncomfortable from a moral perspective, the fact that you're questioning it at all is probably a pretty good indicator you don't feel comfortable doing it,” he says. “There is no amount of money, in my opinion, that would or should ease a moral question about an action that you’re preparing to take.”
He says candidly if someone has a moral objection to the payments, regardless of financial position, “morality should always trump finances.” No pun intended.
Live and Let Live
This decision is very personal and will vary from producer to producer, and as such, Hoskins says, farmers should stop judging each other about such a choice.
“I know producers that are absolutely adamant about not working on Sundays regardless of the circumstances and I know other producers who are perfectly comfortable working on Sundays,” he explains. “That is a personal decision, and neither one of them should look at the other and make judgments about their neighbor’s actions because both are doing what they believe is the correct thing within their being.”
MFP is no different.
Here’s what a few farmers on Twitter are saying about the subject:
Imagine how this looks to the farmers who wrote a tight budget, then got rained out or droughted out.— Lyle Benjamin (@LyleBenjamin4) August 6, 2019
Practicality is pushing pretty hard on principle in my area.
Saying that people are unjust in taking the payments due to the fact that the administration has taken a hard line on negotiating and hence there will be repercussions from that seems unfair. He has to secure his voting base for 2020. The heartland holds the key to that.— Jeremiah Nicholson (@NVfarmer) August 6, 2019
I have no problem with farm-socialism. If your philosophy causes you ulcers about government-supported agriculture, consider food security a national security issue. Perhaps the most important national security issue as we move forward. Rename it to Strategic Farming Reserves.— Rinny (@RinnyTheGopher) August 6, 2019