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Byline: James Mayse
May 20--When Daviess County farmer Joe Elliott began farming for himself in 1962, the world was a different place. Although agriculture was always a business fraught with risk, it was still a business that offered a reasonable living.
A lot has changed since 1962. Today, farmers find themselves competing to sell their grain on the world market and must combat low grain prices, rising costs and the decline of the once-lucrative tobacco market. Despite these obstacles, many American farmers do manage to stay in business -- although a lot of their income is in the form of government payments.
"They (the government) need to keep us in pretty fair shape," Elliott said, "because the one thing the country can't stand is nothing to eat."
Before the 1996 Farm Bill took effect, the government controlled how much farmers grew and was willing to pay farmers for leaving a portion of their land uncultivated. But the 1996 Farm Bill, known as "Freedom To Farm," ended that policy, and instead told farmers they would be allowed to plant as much as they pleased.
At the time, it seemed like a …