I was born, raised and still live in farm country. Roads that cut the land into square of corn and soybeans is a nostalgia trigger for me. Some of my great friends were in the FFA (just like KFC, FFA supposedly doesn’t stand for anything now, it’s just what it is on its face. Dumb.) and I worked at a John Deere dealer cleaning combines and working on tractors.
Despite being in the heart of farm country, I had no idea what the “farm bill” was. It turns out farmers are getting money from the federal government for every acre of row crops (corn, soybeans and a few others) they grow because growing these crops in the past has barely generated a profit. These are the same crops that are in nearly everything we eat. High Fructose Corn Syrup, animal feed the wax on the fruit you by a the store, it all comes from these fields.
The lawmakers in D.C. are working on hashing out a new farm bill. These things are set up for about a five-year basis and the current one is set to expire in 2012. Lawmakers talking about cutting the “direct subsidies” to farmers. A lot of foodies and the like are cheering that effort. They say it’s the money from the government that is propping up a system that makes us unhealthy.
At least according to a new study by Food and Water Watch. Those folks say the over saturation of just a few crops is the result of capitalism. Actually, they say a commodities market, but it’s the same thing.
When you’re in a system that rewards larger productions, you have an over saturated market, and the food producers just find new ways to use the crop byproducts to shave costs and increase their profits, the report argues.
It wants us to move back to the system we had previously where the government paid farmers to not grow crops, and had a strategic grain reserve to buy up crops when the market was flush and release them when there was a bad season.
One of the more interesting quotes from the report.
The main beneficiaries of the shift away from federal policies such as supply management — which kept commodity prices stable and production under control — are not consumers or farmers, but the food industry. These interests were the main advocates behind the elimination of these policies and in favor of deregulation of the farm system.
Just some food for thought.