Brewing a Disaster with North American Agriculture

Photo by Aimee Donnelly

Sowing Disaster: Why We Need a New Farm Bill
by Christopher D. Cook / April 18, 2008

Congress passes its share of boondoggles, but there’s a real doozy on the docket April 18. If the nearly $300 billion Farm Bill passes in its current form, the American public will pay billions of dollars to large-scale farmers and food corporations for the following end results: an oversupply of unhealthful junk food that worsens our national obesity epidemic; severe depletion of soil and air through overuse of pesticides and destructive farming practices; and the hastened removal of small farms from the land, eroding the spirit and finances of rural communities across the U.S.

To be sure, there are positive elements in the bill, which gets revisited every five years. There’s funding for conservation and nutrition programs, even small bits (in the $5 million range) for innovative community food security projects that expand markets for small farmers while making food accessible to poor inner-city residents. But the bill’s Commodity Title erases all that – using tax dollars of up to $20 billion a year to finance big growers’ production of corn, wheat, and other commodities that are used as ingredients in everything from cooking oil, to sweeteners and fattening agents in processed foods, to livestock feed and auto fuel.

While supporting farmers to produce basic foodstuffs is a laudable policy goal, our current farm-subsidy system accomplishes something far different, propping up profoundly unsustainable growing practices while undermining the nation’s health and its farming and food future. By upholding subsidies for big agriculture, Congress is not only wasting taxpayer dollars at a time of soaring crop and food prices; more fundamentally, it’s undermining vital efforts to make our food supply more healthful and sustainable, both environmentally and economically.

Read all of it here. / Common Dreams / The Rag Blog

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