[eDebate] Re.: Don't be afraid of commodity one crops

Steinberg, David L dave
Fri Jul 11 08:41:01 CDT 2008

I think the fear of the commodities covered by Title I (which is not nearly as long as some have represented) is misplaced:
1) Most of the crops are exactly the same as those listed explicitly in the "short list" alternative wording. The only crops that have been added: pulse crops, oilseeds, barley, sorghum, honey, mohair. These crops, as part of the current farm bill and commodity literature, have much more in common, including solvency mechanisms, bodies of relevant literature, and contemporary context, than ethanol, fisheries and CAFO, which access very large and very different bodies of literature. I think Mike Davis hit it on the head by arguing that it will be easier to research and strategize the additional Title I crops than the other topics.
2) Almost all the crops unique to Title I can be grouped into categories of crops which share the same bodies of literature, advantages, and disadvantages, because they are discussed as a category in the literature and rarely individually. For example, oilseeds (peanuts/other), pulse crops (peas/chickpeas/lentils), rice (short/long), etc. The fact that Title I lists both large and small chickpeas doesn't mean that the aff will be able to exploit those distinctions. Negative strategies will only have to target a group of crops, even if the Aff were to focus on one (it's also worth pointing out that some of these sub-crops are implicitly included in the short list, such as rice). The only exceptions to the grouping of these commodities in the literature are honey and mohair. Researching two more commodities isn't a big deal, and I would argue that these two in particular have some of the most interesting (and controversial) literature, aff and neg, on the topic. They're also the only subsidies which have been repealed previously for periods of time, so they have empirical discussions of their effectiveness.
3) The discussions of limits I have encountered so far focus only on the number of commodities. However, Title I also provides a limit on the mechanism for support by limiting the aff to ending direct payments or marketing loan assistance. This may provide a check against extremely creative interpretations of what constitutes a subsidy or a market barrier. I think this aspect of the resolution could have a much greater impact on my research burden than the number of commodities. Explicitly limiting the resolution to target the types of support provided in the farm bill ensures a predictable body of current evidence for both sides.
For these reasons, if I were to fear any wording for being unlimiting, it would be the deceptively short list in option a. There are lots of really creative, interesting affs in the Title I commodities, you only have to take a look into the literature to find them.
Kenny McCaffrey
Assistant Debate Coach
University of Miami
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