Tag Archive for 'Wheat'


Farm subsidies promote terrorism

Well, maybe not directly, but it bears thinking about. It’s not a new idea, either, but I thought I’d put it out there anyway …

US and European farm subsidies artificially suppress world crop prices by causing American and European farmers to produce more than they profitably otherwise could. By the World Bank’s estimates, the prices of course grains, rice and wheat would rise by between 4% and 7% relative to other prices if all subsidies and other impediments to trade were removed (hat tip: Dani Rodrik).

That means that farmers in places like Afghanistan turn to other crops like poppies (for heroin). Since drugs are illegal, the farmers can only sell their crops through black (well, in Afghanistan, grey) markets that are controlled, America tells us, by people who support and funnel profits to the Taliban and al-Qa’ida.

Those Afghani farmers don’t really care what they grow. They just want to make a profit, like anybody else. How do we know this? Because when the price of crops goes up for other reasons, they happily started switching to planting wheat:

In parts of Helmand Afghan farmers are this year sowing wheat instead of poppy – not because they have suddenly been converted to the argument that producing heroin is not in the national interest.

Market forces have been the deciding factor – with wheat prices doubling in the past year, and the street price of heroin falling, it is now more cost effective to grow wheat.

So there you have it. If America was serious about fighting drugs and terrorism, it would cut it’s farm subsidies.