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Will Farmville Players Remain Interested in Actual Farming?

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NOW THIS IS HAPPENING
DailyFeed
MSNBC's Suzanne Choney writes:

"Enough with the "so-and-so planted a rhubarb in your name" kind of nonsense of FarmVille that you see on Facebook: MyFarm plans to be the real deal, a real farm, with real animals, real people and a real online organization."



"Britain's National Trust is behind the new MyFarm online project, which it hopes will draw 10,000 members of the public to help manage," she continues. "The Wimpole Home Farm at Arrington is in Cambridgeshire, about 50 miles from London. And no farming experience is needed, says the National Trust; just the equivalent of about $48 as a contribution."

"MyFarm Farmers will join forces on this website to discuss and make decisions on every aspect of the farm: the crops we grow, the breeds of animal we stock, the new facilities we invest in and the machinery we use," the website reads.

The first order of business will be conducted on May 26, when members decide what crops to plant first.

But, is MyFarm really more realistic than FarmVille?

From a US perspective, FarmVille has almost nothing in common with agriculture today. If FarmVille were a realistic depiction, players would spend the bulk of their time and money lobbying Washington for favorable treatment in the form of protectionist tariffs, competing against multinationals like ADM (ADM) and ConAgra (CAG) for corporate welfare dollars artfully referred to as “subsidies,” and letting taxpayers fund programs that reward agribusiness for not farming their arable land.

Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv, points out that “agricultural subsidies were put in place in the 1930s during the Great Depression, when 25% of Americans lived on farms. At the time, Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace called them 'a temporary solution to deal with an emergency.' Those programs are still in place today, even though less than 1% of Americans currently live on farms that are larger, more efficient, and more productive than ever before.”

Gillespie continues:
 
Consider these facts. Ninety percent of all subsidies go to just five crops: corn, rice, cotton, wheat, and soybeans. Two-thirds of all farm products -- including perishable fruits and vegetables -- receive almost no subsidies. And just 10% of recipients receive 75% of all subsidies. A program intended to be a “temporary solution” has become one of our government’s most glaring examples of corporate welfare.

US taxpayers aren’t the only ones who pay the price. Cotton subsidies, for example, encourage overproduction, which lowers the world price of cotton. That’s great for people who buy cotton, but it’s disastrous for already-impoverished cotton farmers in places such as West Africa.

US farm programs cost taxpayers billions each year, significantly raise the price of commodities such as sugar (which is protected from competition from other producers in other countries), undermine world trade agreements, and contribute to the suffering of poor farmers around the world. It’s bad public policy, especially in these troubled economic times.

And here’s what a real -- not virtual -- farmer has to say about it:



FarmVille has been a success in the face of what most would see as a failure waiting to happen. But, it says something about today’s agricultural policy when pretending to farm abides by conventional logic while actual farming does anything but.Let's see how many FarmVille aficionados who plan on switching to MyFarm are able to keep their heads in the game when real life intrudes on their fun.
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