This week’s blog is simply a reposting of an article from the USA Today on water in the west and how government incentives can distort sustainable thoughts. It is an honest recount of a rancher who has received subsidies over many years and now finds himself in a moral dilemma.
There’s no going back after taking a handout
I get a sense of unreality from all of this. By rancher standards, federal agencies and their generous staffs are the Cadillacs in a used-pickup world: too expensive to expose to daily wear, but without them, very little of modern agriculture would exist out here.
Our family has always hewed very close to the original meaning of productive self-sufficiency. We have made every effort to evade the outpourings of government help, refused to sign the forms that opened the government coffers, rejected the smooth counsel of advisers whose common theme has always been to take every possible advantage of every well-intended government handout. To us, this has been the difference between freeborn and serfdom.
But now I find myself faced with the very real possibility that to carry on with my commitment to life, I may have to join the serfs. If I don’t, 15 square miles of desiccated shrublands and forests, now anticipating that trickle of water, will pay a much higher price than disappointment.
The NRCS has soothing answers: eligibility lists and connections with many other government programs, which can be bundled to make this near catastrophe a financial opportunity. And suddenly it becomes clear how stern, independent, long-suffering ranchers can so easily be beguiled into the honeyed rat trap of federal subsidies.
And from there, is there any going back?