Farm Subsidies and Trucking

May 16, 2008

Is there a connection between farm subsidies and the owner-operator trucking community? At first glance one would think that was ridiculous, but let's examine it for a minute. Our government just passed a $307 billion (yes billion!) farm subsidy to benefit an industry that is already profitable.

USA Today reports that, "At a time of soaring food prices and record farm income, the legislation would authorize billions in subsidies for wealthy agribusiness interests that give millions in political contributions." The report continues, "The 673-page bill is replete with narrowly tailored provisions sought by lobbying groups, records show. Those measures include $93 million in tax breaks for horse breeders, $170 million in grants for the salmon industry and what Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., called a "backroom" deal that he said mainly benefits one Montana timber company."

Powerful lobbying interests have benefited farmers – sure would be nice if the trucking industry had a group that could deliver that much to benefit the independent owner-operator or small trucking companies. Wow - $93 million for horse breeders.

Instead, the trucking community bickers among themselves in many instances instead of uniting for the benefit of all. The recent initiation of Owners-Operators United offers a chance to gain power and many are ridiculing the efforts. The host of a truck call-in show said he adamantly opposed the OOU. He said all they were looking for was a government hand-out. Duh! The government does it all the time – it would be irresponsible and bad business not to lobby for anything that is of benefit to the industry. One example is a proposed OOU government subsidy for APU's. It saves fuel, saves money, is an environmental improvement over present practices and benefits producers and consumers. But perhaps I don't fully understand - the salmon industry and horse breeders are important too.

Actually, the farmers, salmon fishing industry and horse breeders are simply getting a return on their investment in strong politically powerful groups that lobby Congressmen and articulate their needs. Many call it a hand-up in a competitive arena, while some in the trucking community would say they are just getting a government hand-out. One has to bet the salmon industry and horse breeders are laughing all the way to the bank.

Joining the OOU offers an opportunity. It's hard to make an impact overnight, but over several years changes can be made to benefit truckers. The OOU has already made an impact in just a month – imagine the possibilities if they can grow in strength. On the down-side, what if they fail? Is anything substantive been lost? I don't think so. Having a powerful group that can lobby on behalf of owner-operators and small trucking businesses only offers an edge. Business is always tough as I've written in the pastand the smart business person always looks for opportunity when it's available.

Oh well, – you folks continue to bicker – I'm getting my fishing pole and gonna join those salmon guys – hell, I might even buy a horse and set up a breeding facility. Looks like there's money to be made by joining those groups.

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