Fleeced By The Fleece

Apparently the budget deal workout last Friday night left some loose end to be negotiated starting yesterday. The Daily Caller has the story:

Washington is busy anointing winners and losers in the 11th hour spending deal struck late Friday to avert government shutdown, but meanwhile the staffs of the House and Senate appropriations committees are busy at work negotiating the fine print.

“The agreement was on overall funding levels and some of the more controversial policy riders,” said Jennifer Hing, spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, “the rest of the policy riders and funding levels for individual programs are still under negotiation.”

The issue is important because the House-passed spending bill, H.R. 1, included scores of policy riders – issues that remain unresolved even as the public views the deal with finality.

The riders of most importance to conservatives did not survive the Friday night negotiations; i.e.,Planned Parenthood defunding and defunding of NPR and CPB. However there were several riders that were apparently left for further negotiations. These were:

– A rider banning funding on President Obama’s numerous “czars.”

– Riders that would rescind unobligated money from Obama’s economic stimulus (promotional material for the deal indicates this was a Republican “win,” but no concrete details are available).

– The exact structure of the Obamacare consolation prize riders. Promotional material indicated that, for instance, Republicans would get a full “audit” of the waivers given to companies and unions but many details are still forthcoming.

– A rider banning foreign aid to Saudi Arabia.

– A rider ending subsidies to mohair farmers.

So  far I have been able to find out how these riders fared. The first three are important ones for our side. But please take a look at the last one. Subsidies for mohair farmers. Did you know we had subsidies for mohair farmers? I didn’t. I didn’t even know we had such things as mohair farmers. I remember having a beige mohair blazer a loooooong time ago. In case your not familiar with mohair, here is an explanation from  The Wise Keek:

Mohair is a silky textile produced from the hair of the angora goat. It is most often spun into a thread that can be woven, knitted, or crocheted depending upon the application. Mohair is durable, warm, insulating, and light. It also has moisture wicking properties that carry moisture away from the skin of the wearer. The hair of the angora goat has been used to produce textiles for centuries, and the term mohair entered English usage from the Arabic mukhaar, referring to a type of woven head cloth.

So is this a new program or an old program and do we know about it? Well, a quick search turned up some answers in an article written by Johnathan Rauch in 1991. Here is some of what I llearned:

WORLD WAR II veterans will remember their heavy woolen uniforms, a staple of the American fighting man’s wardrobe. During the war, the Pentagon discovered that U.S. wool producers could deliver only about half the wool the military needed. Nowadays people talk about strategic commodities like machine tools and microchips; back then, it was wool. Congress decided that the nation’s wool production needed to be maintained and expanded; it also, not incidentally, wanted to protect domestic producers from the effects of imports. Mohair, a specialty fiber that had no strategic value but had been traditionally viewed as an offshoot of the wool industry, was included in the program. The result was the 1954 National Wool Act.

So this program has been around for a while. But how does it work and what does it cost the taxpayer. Here is how it was according to this 1991  article:

There are almost two million such goats in the United States, 84 per cent of them in Texas, all of them resplendently clad in thick coats of pearly fleece. Until now, you have almost certainly never known of their existence. Thus you probably also had not heard that Angora goats cost the U.S. government about $ 60 million last year.

…. In 1990, if you had clipped your goat, sold the fleece and brought the receipt to your local Agriculture Department office, Uncle Sam would have paid you $ 3.87 for every dollar you earned on the market. Not a bad offer, even by the standards of the frequently generous federal farm programs.

It gets better. Read this:

As farm programs go, this one was a little unusual. Most work by simultaneously jiggering market prices and regulating production, a messy and often self-contradictory process. With wool and $, though, the mechanics have been clean and simple. No supply controls, no manipulation of market prices — just cold, hard cash. Does Mary have a little lamb? Then Mary gets a government check.

Herein lies another quirk that sets the federal wool and mohair program apart. Most farm programs were designed, more or less, to be income stabilizers. Generally speaking, the more the farmer gets per bushel or per pound from the market, the less he gets from the government. The wool and mohair program, on the other hand, was designed to stimulate production and sales, pure and simple.

As a result, the formula is written so that the farmer’s subsidy is a percentage of his market sales. In 1990, for instance, the wool subsidy rate was 127.5 per cent. This means that a farmer who fetched $ 2 for a pound of wool got $ 2.55 from the government (total: $ 4.55), but a farmer in another region, who fetched only $ 1 a pound, got only $ 1.28 (total: $ 2.28). In effect, it is a kind of reverse means-test: The greater your earning power in the marketplace, the bigger your government subsidy check.

This has to take the cake for absurdity. You have to wonder how many other asinine programs are we paying for. I don’t know about you but it really stick in my craw that our boys and girls in Congress could agree to throw this piece of garbage in the trash can of stupid ideas. No, they need to negotiate it. GIVE ME A BREAK!


28 thoughts on “Fleeced By The Fleece

  1. First off, my royalty check had better be in the mail, I know you don’t want a call from my lawyer Howard Dean.

    Secondly, I need to get in on some of this action. I wonder how hard it is to raise an angoran goat? If I can, I will try and explain how this program is helpful to the United States. As everyone know and Nancy Pelosi explained, every dollar spent on Mohair farmers returns $1.70 to our economy – you see, they don’t just grow wool, they grow money too. It is really quite remarkable.

    1. I can tell you exactly how hard it is jackass. After the $3,000 fence, the pasture renovation (seeding, fertilizing, aerating), the vet bills, the cost of having them sheared (no, its not as easy as it looks and a good pair of clippers cost $300) and then the cost of shipping the wool to a processor, I am lucky if I make it a break even proposition. Oops, I almost forgot about the $35 per week hay bill as well as the 50 pound sacks of feed. the daily watering, the chasing them out of the neighbor’s spinach patch and the staying up all night making sure Daisy didn’t die delivering her twins and please tell me where the money is because I clearly have missed out on it. I raise goats because I love it and I’m proud of the product I put out. Why don’t you do a little research before you make such idiotic comments.

  2. I had no idea there even was such a thing as a mohair farmer, but this is a perfect examply of wasteful government spending and you have to wonder how many other examples are out there that we don’t know about.

  3. The budget is full of crap like this. My pet hated program is ethanol subsidies. I get so pissed every time I see someone filling up an E87 vehicle. I tell the kids, “see there, that guy is tanking up with my money.”

    Ethanol is immoral. It starves people to feed cars, and We the Taxpayer are paying for it.

    I remain optimistic, even as the dirty details come out. That battle is over.

    I really believe the 2012 budget battle will determine the future of this nation. If the GOP does not go all out, I really do believe we are done as a nation. Not that we will be destroyed immediately, but it will be the definite beginning of the end.

    I am also optimistic that they can get it done, but it will take millions of us watching them like hawks. I asked everyone to cut Boehner some slack over last weekend’s deal. I am now standing with the torches and pitchforks brigades as we gear up for the 2012 budget battle.

    1. A little off topic silverfiddle, ever thought about all the acres the government pays farmers to leave idle? As it turns out, corn yields little ethanol per acre. There are crops that yeild more than double the ethanol that corn does, even crops that can be grown in very arid climates that are not currently farmed, such as sweet sorghum can be grown in Arizona can yield 400 to 600 gallons of ethanol per acre to corn’s approx. 300 gallons per acre in the corn belt.
      Just a couple things to think about, not to mention the CO2 that the plant captures and stores in the root systems/ground, a plus that not many talk about.

  4. I am not optimistic that they really understand how they have disappointed a lot of us. I could understand the subsidy if it was during WW1 or WW2, the wool from the goats was used in a lot of things. My grandparents were angora goat ranchers at the time, but I don’t think many people do it anymore.

    1. Democrats or Republicans, you would think, that as adults, they could look at this and say ” yup, this is a no brainer, cut it.” But it is too much for them.

      That is cool about your grandparents being angora goat farmers.

  5. It was just a few years ago that we finally ditched the phone surcharge that paid for the Spanish American War. I think these goofy items in the budget last about a century.

  6. Wow, this earns a “good grief” response. I cease to be amazed at some of the things that are found in our budget. Kind of reminds me of the subsidy the American farmer pays to the Brazilian cotton farmer, to the tune of $147.3 million each year. No, I am not joking. Just do a search for “cotton” on my blog. Our government seems to be willing to spread the wealth around, even if it is in other countries.

  7. I suspect that there are all sorts of useless and expensive programs embedded in the budgets of various federal agencies and of local governments.

    Not a surprise as a bureaucracy feeds upon itself.

    What amazes me: that the media — right, left, and center — do not report these stories. Americans remain unaware largely because of the media.

  8. Good find, Mr. Gourdie. Thanks for sharing this depressingly absurd subsidy. Sadly, I just found myself glad that Americans are receiving and not some other country, like they do with so much of our tax dollars/monopoly money. Like Pakistani Elmo.

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