Why do We Pay Agriculture Subsidies
What was in the last cart of groceries that you bought?
Were any of these items in your cart, milk, cereal, cheese and other dairy products, corn, wheat, pasta, meat, bakery products, soda with HFCS? All of these items are being subsidized by the government making payments to farmers. Think about the list for a moment and you realize that we taxpayers are footing a bill to subsidize the least healthy things in our diet. Items listed here are related to cholesterol problems, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and liver disease. Over 75 percent of deaths in the U.S. are from diseases linked to an unhealthy diet.
USDA subsidies in the United States totaled $16.3 billion in 2009
In 2009, the top 10 percent of recipients were paid 61 percent of all USDA subsidies. $246.7 billion in subsidies 1995-2009. In the current budget cutting frenzy in Washington the poor and the sick and the elderly are being told they have to pay more and lose guaranteed benefits, to be replaced by vouchers. If they’re not able to find coverage, oh well, we need the money to cut taxes for the wealthy. How then do we even begin to rationalize billions being used to subsidize agriculture?
$1.3 Billion to People Who Don't Farm
The largest annual subsidy, called direct and countercyclical payments, is given to farmers regardless of what crops they grow or don’t grow. The Washington Post found that, between 2001 and 2006, at least $1.3 billion was paid to landowners who had planted nothing since 2000. Some recipients were homeowners in developments whose backyards used to be rice fields. The current program of direct payments was established by Congress in 1996 as a temporary program intended to wean producers off subsidies. The program has since been made permanent
Ethanol Plant in Indiana
I want my subsidy
No Subsidies Here
Specialty Crops and the FDA
The USDA refers to fresh fruits and vegetables as “specialty crops.” Agricultural subsidies do NOT go to specialty crops. Farmers who participate in commodity subsidy programs are generally prohibited from growing fruits and vegetables on the so-called “base acres” of land for which they receive subsidies. This provision, enacted in 1996, stops farmers from producing the very item which the FDA tells us are needed for a healthy diet. Alright, so grains are heavily subsidized, are they not the base of the USDA “Food Pyramid”? Yep, they sure are, but it might pay to look at the Harvard School of Public Health Food Pyramid. Reliance on grains as a food source is a source of elevated blood sugars, thus leading to much of the epidemic of diabetes we are seeing in this country. Also in the Harvard pyramid you will see that fruits and vegetables play a roll equal to grains and the grains need to be chosen for better properties, not just as a source of carbohydrates. How about a little more shocking news? A healthy life style includes exercise and healthy fats are just as important as fruits, vegetables and grains. That’s a lot to digest, and all you have to gain is good health.
GOP, cut subsidies? NO, NO, NO
No Subsidy Here Either
Fruits and vegetables,
Fruits and vegetables, ignored by subsidies, these contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Eating larger amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthful diet is likely to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, even including certain cancers. Most people should consume at least at least 4½ cups of vegetables and fruits a day. No, potatoes don't count, forget the extra large serving of fries, and even Ronald Reagan couldn’t get ketchup or pickle relish declared to be vegetables. We all need a variety of kinds and colors of produce, to give our bodies the mix of nutrients we need. Dark leafy greens, cooked tomatoes, and any vegetable that's a rich yellow, orange, or red color is an excellent choice to add to the diet every day. Fortified foods or supplements might be helpful in getting the nutrients you body needs but it pays to remember that many foods have been fortified because their original nutrients were stripped out as part of the processing. There is no substitute for whole natural foods.
Food Pyramids, Harvard and FDA
Fats and Oils
Fats and Oils, another essential in the diet, are ignored by subsidies. Use liquid plant oils for cooking and baking. Olive, canola, and other plant-based oils are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Avoid all Trans Fats, in the supermarket, read the label to find foods that are Trans-fat free. Fatty fish, walnuts, and canola oil all provide omega-3 fatty acids, the biggest influence on blood cholesterol level is the mix of fats in your diet—not the amount of cholesterol you eat from food. Some say that canola oil causes diseases like joint pain, gum disease, constipation, heart disease and hearing loss. The truth is that canola oil contains unsaturated fat which has been proven to be beneficial to our health. Olive oil is also one of the healthiest oils containing monounsaturated fat, which can lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol in the blood.
CBS on Farm Subsidies
Here's your bill
Who Do You Believe?
On the other hand, the corn which was used to make the high fructose corn syrup which sweetened the soda your kids drank last night is highly subsidized. In 2005 we spent over 7 billion dollars subsidizing corn and feed crops, some of this corn went into your gas tank, some into your stomach as HFCS and some into feeding the farm animals you ate at dinner. As to using corn to make ethanol to fuel the family car, because ethanol is less efficient than gasoline it cuts mileage by about 4%. Increasing fuel mileage nationally by 0.4 miles per gallon would do the same as all the ethanol used in the U.S.
Even this is made with subsidized ingredients
- Food Pyramids: What Should You Really Eat? - What Should You Eat? - The Nutrition Source - Harvard S
Food Pyramids: What Should You Really Eat? - What Should You Eat? - The Nutrition Source - Harvard School of Public Health
- PCRM >> Health >> Agriculture and Health Policies in Conflict: How Ag Subsidies Tax our
Dietary choices are influenced by government policies that affect the availability and cost of food. This report examines these health problems and policy factors that influence them.
- EWG Farm Subsidy Database
Farm subsidy database numbers
Choices to be Made
There are choices to be made about who we elect and who we believe. The FDA food pyramid has been publicized and used for the basis for a healthy diet for many years. Approximately 66 percent of Americans are overweight or obese these conditions are linked to diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. About 33 percent of children born in 2000 will develop diabetes. The annual medical cost of diet related diseases has reached 481.3 billion annually. In 2009, we spent 4 billion just to subsidize corn and another 2 billion to subsidize wheat. Is this what we send our representatives to Washington to do?
The farm subsidy system often is touted by Congress as a way to save small family farms. Instead, those policies are killing small family farms because owners of large farms receive the most subsidies and the large farms are buying up the small family farms. Still, there are some farmers that say they depend on the subsidies to survive.
In a conservative political environment that worships so called “free markets” there can be no reason to bill tax payers to support farms which can’t support themselves. In a progressive political environment there can be no reason to support big business farms which rake in millions of our tax dollars to boost their profits. How can it be that the budget which was supported by All but 4 Republicans can cut taxes for millionaires, cut benefits for the ill and the elderly but continue paying big businesses farm subsidies? The land on which my own home is built was once part of a cattle ranch, am I owed a farm subsidy? After all, I’m not raising any cattle, where do I apply?
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