Your hypothetical 500 acre farm of Med grain rice. According to the UC Davis Ag extension link you provided, the total operating costs (per acre) for growing rice in the Sacramento Valley is ~$1,100.00. That’s the TOTAL OPERATING COST…The total cost out of the farmers pocket, from laying seed to harvest, paying for all labor (including his own hours), equipment, taxes, fees, water, everything. The UCD link makes quite a few assumptions and states those assumptions in their synopsis. Not all of which I agree with, but they probably know more about farming rice than either of us ever will, so I’ll stipulate to their assumptions.
Then add land rents and non-cash overhead and the table ends at 1606 total cost per acre, and 500 times 1606 equals 803,000.
Of course, UCD's model assumes they only "own" 200 acres and LEASE the remaining 640 acres for UC Davis' hypothetical 840 acre operation... one of the assumptions I'm not so sure I agree with. If they 'own' their 500 acre farm, that drops right back down to ~$1,100 an acre, more or less.
Just for giggles, I thought I'd look for a more recent cost per acre, and found the "USA Rice Federation" 2012/2013 almanac...http://www.usarice.com/doclib/188/217/6563.pdf
USA Rice Federation wrote: "...While rice prices have only marginally increased over the past five years, the cost of producing rice has skyrocketed over 40 percent in the same time period, rising from $680 per acre in 2007 to $968 in 2011. This may be another contributing factor to the decrease in total acres of rice planted over the previous five years..."
So if you use the $986 per acre, it's even less than the US Davis' number... so we're back down to about half of your $803k number. But both the UC Davis cost (assuming the farmer owns the majority of their farm property) and the USA Rice Federation number are closer to $500k than your $803k.
The other side of the coin?
USA Rice Federation wrote: "...Season year average prices for rice have increased slightly since 2007. Long-grain prices have increased $1 per hundredweight (CWT), rising from $12.40 in 2007 to $13.40 in 2011 and averaging $12.92 over that five-year period. Medium- and short-grain prices have seen a slightly higher increase of $1.90 per CWT. Since 2007 but have also been more volatile due to a steep increase in 2008 to $24.80 and subsequent decrease to $16.50 over the past three years, averaging $18.62 over the 2007–2011 time period."
So let's throw out the banner year of 2008, when that 500 acre farm would have made slightly over a million bucks in gross revenues. Using the 2007-2011 average
price per CWT of $18.62, and keeping the USDA production rate of 85 CWT/ Acre, that 500 acre farm now grosses... $791,350. Holey Moley. No wonder you say the $100k they get in agri-welfare is paltry... it's downright pocket lint for this hypothetical rice farmer.
Now let's split the assumed cost to plant that 500 acre farm... My figs say more like $500K, you say $800K. Call it $650k, something we could argue about till the ducks return and not reach a concensus. That means the poor destitute farmer is only raking in $141 thousand dollars in pure profit a year. So much for my earlier number of $45k a year.
Another factoid straight from the USA Rice Federation 2012/13 Almanac:
USA Rice Federation wrote: As the USA Rice PAC sets its goals for the 2013–2014 election cycle, all segments of the industry are being asked to continue their commitment to a strong political presence in Washington, DC. Building on the momentum established over the past 10 years, USA Rice PAC must undertake new and creative fundraising techniques and a peer-to-peer campaign within the industry to grow PAC resources. The future of the USA Rice PAC depends on continued member support and engagement.
Contributions to Democratic Leadership PACs $8,000
Contributions to Republican Leadership PACS $31,000
Contributions to Republican Members $159,500
Contributions to Democratic Members $49,481
Net total spent by the USA Rice Federation PAC to buy politicians in 2012... nearly a quarter million dollars. A paltry sum indeed.
The bottom line, rice is big business, will always be big business. There will always be profits in it, and there will always be boatloads of corporate welfare paid out to the guys buying the politicians and thier influence, courtesy of the American Taxpayer.
Don't like to hear it called corporate welfare??? Then just wave your hands about and scream a little louder about how much hard work growing rice is and how we all just don't get it... you might be able to drown out your own conciousness if you yell loud enough or tell the same lies often enough.