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Taxation and Food Production

The monopoly of land broken up, it seems to me that rural life would tend to revert to the primitive type of the village surrounded by cultivated fields, with its common pasturage and woodlands. But however this may be, the working farmer would participate fully in all the enormous economies and all the immense gains which society can secure by the substitution of orderly cooperation for the anarchy of reckless, greedy scrambling.

-- Henry George, Social Problems, Chapter 16, "City and Country"

Taxation and Food Production

How our tax system favors corporate farming, animal factories, pesticides, chemicals and food processing over family farms, animal husbandry, organic farming and fresh produce.

Competing Farm Types

  • Corporate farms
  • Full-time family farms
  • Speculative "hobby" farms

How tax policy

  • Encourages speculation and drives up farmland prices
  • Makes it almost impossible for ordinary people to own farms
  • Shifts the competitive advantage away from family farms
  • Discourages organic farming
  • Favors raising livestock and grain over produce
  • Favors factory farming over raising free-range livestock
  • Favors nationally distributed processed food over locally distributed produce

Things to consider:

  • Full-time family-owned farms have higher yields per dollar value of farmland than corporate farms or weekend "hobby" farms.
  • Taxes on farmland give a a competitive advantage to family-owned farms.
  • Tax breaks on farmland and "clean and green" land attract speculators and corporate monopolists, driving farmland prices out of the reach of potential farming families.
  • States with the lowest farmland taxes are far more dominated by corporate farms than those with the highest farmland taxes.
  • Farmland ownership concentrated through the decades from 1860 to 1890, but grew less concentrated as government began taxing real estate more heavily from 1890 to 1910. As governments gradually shifted away from real estate taxes between 1910 and 1990, farmland ownership concentrated once again.
  • Raising livestock and grain for feed requires more land and less labor than raising produce for human consumption.
  • Shifting taxes from land values to labor and labor products favors raising livestock, and particularly favors labor-efficient "factory farming" over raising fruits and vegetables.
  • Large food processors are very labor efficient, but waste produce, making them land inefficient. Taxes on labor shift agriculture toward processed food, while taxes on land value shift it toward fresh produce.
  • Because produce is perishable, small farmers turn to livestock, which is not bid down by large buyers at harvest time. Many would prefer to raise produce if not for the market domination of large buyers.
  • Organic farming requires labor with levels of skill and dedication rarely found on corporate farms.

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  • Government as Referee
  • Government as Public Servant
  • Earth as a Commons
  • Money as a Common Medium
  • Property Derives from Labor

Core Issues

  • Democratic Process
  • Monopoly
  • Debt Money
  • Taxation
  • Privilege

Derivative Issues

  • Wealth Concentration
  • Corruption
  • Bureaucracy
  • Authorities
  • Privatization
  • Centralization
  • Globalization and Trade
  • Economic Stagnation
  • Boom-Bust Cycles
  • Development Subsidies
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  • Pollution and Depletion
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  • Retirement
  • Wages
  • Zoning
  • Parks
  • Shared Services

Blinding Misconceptions

  • Orwellian Economics
  • Corporate Efficiency
  • Democracy vs. Elections
  • Big Government Solutions
  • Founding Fathers
  • Politics of Fear
  • Politics of Least Resistance
  • Radical vs. Militant
  • Left vs. Right
  • Common vs. Collective
  • Analysis vs. Vilification
  • Influence vs. Power

Saving Communities
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Pittsburgh, PA 15213
United States