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The Times
  • Kent Bush: John McCain no fan of popcorn provision

  • Popcorn is important. I don’t just mean whether or not to add butter on a date because you might get to hold a girl’s hand for the first time or when a co-worker nukes some generic popcorn leaving behind a stench worse than death.

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  • Popcorn is important.
    I don’t just mean whether or not to add butter on a date because you might get to hold a girl’s hand for the first time or when a co-worker nukes some generic popcorn leaving behind a stench worse than death.
    You probably wouldn’t have that handy microwave oven in your home if not for popcorn. In 1945, Percy Spencer discovered that popcorn popped when it was heated by microwaves. Because of these findings, other foods were tested and microwave ovens were invented.
    The pilgrims enjoyed popcorn at the first Thanksgiving dinner thanks to the Native Americans. And popcorn is an as important to the coffee ceremony in Ethiopia as the coffee itself.
    Popcorn has supporters in congress, too. With recent farm bills, popcorn growers in America have been brought into the subsidy arena by being treated as a variety of corn and not a specialty crop. Thanks to some help from former Missouri Senator Jim Talent, one of Mitt Romney’s current advisers, popcorn farmers began participating in the farm revenue insurance program this year.
    So what is the problem with that?
    Arizona Sen. John McCain, who hates farm subsidies but has a great sense of humor – as evidenced by his choice of running mates in 2008 – said popcorn was a great example of why he is against subsidies in general.
    “This popcorn carve-out is a perfect example of farm bill politics,” McCain said. “There isn’t a kernel of evidence that shows they need this support from the taxpayers. Popcorn is doing just fine — prices are up and recent free-trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea are creating a boom for our popcorn exports.”
    McCain is correct. Popcorn is a great American export. Argentina is really the only other country that grows enough to export.
    American popcorn can be found in China, Europe, Mexico, Japan, South Korea and even Russia.
    That is why the Popcorn Board (yes, there is a popcorn board) hopes to maintain the crop’s position within the new farm bill.
    Politico reported on some testimony before the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee recently.
    “One of the basic pillars of farm program modifications has been to ensure that those changes do not alter farmer-planting decisions or penalize farmers who have followed the rules of the current farm program,” said Garrett Smith, president of the family-owned American Pop Corn Co. in Sioux City, Iowa. In written testimony submitted to the House Agriculture Committee last month, Smith said, “We understand and support the necessity that farm program costs be reduced sharply. We only ask that whatever is done is not punitive to popcorn producers.”
    Isn’t that how it is with every government program. They are all wasteful unless you benefit from them. Then they are strategic.
    Page 2 of 2 - The popcorn growers worry that they will become the next crop ravaged by cheap imports from Argentina or other countries who see an opening if the American market is compromised.
    One thing is certain, if Arizona had popcorn farms, McCain would be far less concerned about minor changes in the wording of the farm bill.
     
    Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.

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