1.20.2009

If I Were Secretary of Agriculture.....

"The 1985 Farm Bill paid farmers not to farm 61 million acres, which is an area equal to Ohio, Indiana, and half of Illinois. The amount we've spent on farm subsidies from 1980-1990 is enough to buy all the farms in 33 states" --paraphrase by P.J. O'Rourke of Dick Armey's Moscow on the Mississippi: America's Soviet-Style Farm Policy

Disturbing? How about this one:

P.J. O'Rourke also quotes, back in 1990:

"While the USDA is spending 10 billion dollars per year to increase farm income, the same government agency is spending 20 billion dollars per year to make food affordable to poor people through the food stamp program."

He goes on to point out the obvious: something's terribly wrong with this picture. Now, maybe I'm simplistic, maybe I'm not a policy-making bureaucrat, but um, let's see: Hungry People; Farmers who are being paid not to farm their land. Wow. Does it take a degree from Harvard Law to put two and two together?

Why in the world do we pay farmers not to grow corn and soybeans (two crops that are largely genetically modified and contribute to the junk-food industry (not to mention disease-causing "industry") even more than any other? Why can't the government subsidize farmers who grow organic food and who use sustainable practices, and provide "farm vouchers" in addition to food stamps (or instead?) for purchasing pasture-raised milk, meat and eggs, and organic veggies?

[curtsy, step off soap box, exit stage left]

4 comments:

Erica Shier said...

It makes no sense whatsoever. I think we need a little bit more common sense and a lot less special interests involved in our policy making decisions.

CHEESESLAVE said...

The system was not set up to support small farmers. The system was set up to force farmers to either get bigger or drive them out of business. It's all about supporting huge corporations like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill. They want to work with big factory farms because they make more money that way.

Did you see "King Corn"? They explain it really well in that movie.

Marfa said...

Ridiculous! There is so much wrong with our government!!!

Carrie T said...

Amen sisters!!!! I wonder if there's any hope of change with the new administration?