Tuesday, August 11, 2009

US Subsidies for Mohair Production


During World War II, U.S. soldiers wore uniforms made of wool. Worried that domestic producers could not supply enough for future wars, Congress enacted loan and price support programs for wool and mohair in the National Wool Act of 1954 as part of the 1954 Farm Bill. Despite these subsidies, wool and mohair production declined. The strategic importance declined as well: the US Military adopted uniforms made of synthetic fibers such as dacron and officially removed wool from the list of strategic materials in 1960. Nevertheless, the U.S. government continued to provide subsidies to mohair producers until 1995 when the subsidies were "eliminated effective with the marketing year ending December 31, 1995." In The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad Fareed Zakaria points out that the subsidies were reinstated a few years later due in large part to the lobbying on behalf of the special interests of the subsidy recipients. By 2000, Congress had appropriated $20 million for goat and sheep herders. As of 2002, mohair producers were still able to receive special assistance loans from the U.S. Government after an amendment to eliminate the subsidy was defeated. This program is widely cited as "pork barrel" legislation.

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