Farm subsidies are the most expensive subsidies that the government doles out. They are also, perhaps the ultimate, but secret third rail of American politics. While entitlements are discussed out in the open, farm subsidies are rarely talked about.
The amount of money spent is lopsided too. Not much of it is going to local farms but to big agriculture.
All told, the U.S. government spends $20 billion annually on farm subsidies, with approximately 39 percent of all farms receiving some sort of subsidy. For comparison, the oil industry gets about $4.6 billion annually and annual housing subsidies total another $15 billion. A significant portion of this $20 billion goes not to your local family farm, but to Big Aggie.
(Note that this $20 billion annual farm subsidy figure doesn’t take into account the 30+ years of ethanol subsidies to the corn industry nor export subsidies to U.S. farmers issued by the USDA.) –Activist Post
Farm subsidies are often painted as the last refuge of the American small farmer. But even a close examination of where farm subsidies go reveals that nothing could be further from the truth. The 10 largest recipients of aid receive between $14 million and $23.7 million, averaging $18.2 million, or approximately $1.8 million per year for what are giant agricultural combines. Part of this is a deliberate result of United States agricultural policy which began after the Second World War when farmers were told to “get big or get out.”
In an in-depth article titled Food Is Freedom: How Washington’s Food Subsidies Have Helped Make Americans Fat and Sick, author Brian Miller explains how these subsidies are not helping the public, but rather harming them. The free money is only making Americans fatter and sicker. They are also costing the taxpayer a substantial amount of money.
Farm subsidies are a major driver of the obesity and cancer epidemic in the United States as well. Every time Washington interferes in the private sector, they are picking winners and losers. The winners chosen are companies producing food that’s high in calories and low in nutritional density. These foods are the ones that contribute to making Americans sick and fat because it distorts what food is available at what price. Some of these foods can barely even be called that too!
When the United States Department of Agriculture invented the food pyramid, they made sure it favored them only back in 1992. Everyone is familiar with the food pyramid, the alleged template for a healthy diet. The original Food Pyramid urged Americans to eat as many as 11 servings of carbohydrates per day, in addition to another four servings of fruit (i.e., more carbs). Meat, poultry, eggs, fish, beans, and nuts were to total only two to three servings per day between all of them. Fat, even plant fats from avocados or olives were to be shunned and avoided.
This has not done our society any favors. Recent numbers indicate that the “vast majority” of American adults are overweight. According to the most recent Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data, adult obesity rates now exceed 35% in nine states, 30% in 31 states and 25% in 48 states. Perhaps indulging and carbohydrates and avoiding fats isn’t the best way to maintain healthy body weight. And the USDA, even though they have now discontinued the food pyramid, have not addressed this.
The USDA’s latest version of the Food Pyramid is known as MyPlate, and some insight into how it was created and what purpose it serves can be found with the previous pyramid (the Eating Right Pyramid) and why it was discontinued. The Eating Right Pyramid, the original Food Pyramid, was replaced due to industry concerns from beef and poultry farmers that their product was not being presented properly.
An alternative to MyPlate is the Healthy Eating Plate from the Harvard School of Public Health. This stresses whole grains, healthy proteins, and fats, drinking water and other sugar-free drinks, and adequate amounts of vegetables.
Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition Chair Walter Willett claimed that, “like the earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture Pyramids, MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests, which is not the recipe for healthy eating”. -Activist Post
Basically, what people are being told to eat is what the government subsidizes with their money. It isn’t about health. It’s about who can generate the highest amount of food, and in the majority of cases, that food is far from healthy or even necessary in the human diet. In fact, Dr. Marion Nestle, the former chair of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University stated: “There’s a great deal of money at stake in what these guidelines say.”
The government doesn’t care about your health. They care about money, and just like Big Agriculture, you won’t get the right answers on nutrition from the ones who profit off you NOT knowing.
H/T [Activist Post]