the visible hand

it is the theory which decides what can be observed – einstein

Farm bill billions in commodity subsidies

Posted by ecoshift on November 5, 2007

Here’s a good companion piece to yesterday’s post on rising global food prices… What do we want to subsidize? This is the same bill that underwrites programs to provide wetlands/grasslands protections and environmental cleanup, reward environmental farm stewardship and support local foods in the schools and farmer’s markets as well as food stamps. But these environmental/health/social programs are directly linked to the massive WTO illegal commodity subsidies that make high sugar high cholesterol junk food so ubiquitous and cheap.   Hmmm…

Worth clicking the link and reading the entire article…

Weed It and Reap – New York Times
By MICHAEL POLLAN
Published: November 4, 2007
Berkeley, Calif.

FOR Americans who have been looking to Congress to reform the food system, these past few weeks have been, well, the best of times and the worst of times. A new politics has sprouted up around the farm bill, traditionally a parochial piece of legislation thrashed out in private between the various agricultural interests (wheat growers versus corn growers; meatpackers versus ranchers) without a whole lot of input or attention from mere eaters.

Not this year. The eaters have spoken, much to the consternation of farm-state legislators who have fought hard — and at least so far with success — to preserve the status quo.

Americans have begun to ask why the farm bill is subsidizing high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils at a time when rates of diabetes and obesity among children are soaring, or why the farm bill is underwriting factory farming (with subsidized grain) when feedlot wastes are polluting the countryside and, all too often, the meat supply. For the first time, the public health community has raised its voice in support of overturning farm policies that subsidize precisely the wrong kind of calories (added fat and added sugar), helping to make Twinkies cheaper than carrots and Coca-Cola competitive with water. Also for the first time, the international development community has weighed in on the debate, arguing that subsidized American exports are hobbling cotton farmers in Nigeria and corn farmers in Mexico….

When you consider that farm income is at record levels (thanks to the ethanol boom, itself fueled by another set of federal subsidies); that the World Trade Organization has ruled that several of these subsidies are illegal; that the federal government is broke and the president is threatening a veto, bringing forth a $288 billion farm bill that guarantees billions in payments to commodity farmers seems impressively defiant.


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