Friday, November 11, 2011

USDA Cutbacks: America's goat population to remain a mystery

This is a potentially big deal, see links after the jump.
From the Passport blog:
The New York Times reports on the latest cuts to the Department of Agriculture:
Last year, Wisconsin led the nation in mink farming, producing 833,430 pelts. Texas was the undisputed king of pansies, growing 1.8 million flats of the flowers. And no state harvested more hops than Washington, with 24,336 acres. 
This year? Who knows? The government has stopped counting.
Forced to cut its budget, the Agriculture Department has decided to eliminate dozens of reports, including the annual goat census (current population: three million), and the number of catfish on the nation’s fish farms (177 million, not counting the small fry).
The government began producing regular crop reports in 1863, the year after Lincoln created the Agriculture Department. One of the reports being eliminated, an annual sheep inventory (5.5 million head on Jan. 1), can trace its roots at least as far back as 1866. Also ending are reports on bees, honey production, flowers and nursery crops....
...Decline-o-meter: Lord knows there's ample room for cuts in U.S. farm policies, but spending $11 million to obtain accurate figures about a fairly vital sector of the economy actually sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Of course, the goat census is ripe for mockery, according to the longstanding principle in American political discourse that any government policy involving animals automatically sounds ridiculous. And yes, given the title of this post, I can't really complain about that. 

Combined with last month's doping scandel:
Colorado State Fair champion goats disqualified after failed drug test
As Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald put it: "The Colorado State Fair is basically the Tour de France for goats."

Goats could recede from the National conciousness and we'd never again see Wall Street Journal headlines like this beauty:
Lehman Pushed ‘Goat Poo’ Securities, J.P. Morgan Says