The Blog

Advocating a Change in Farm Policy

Essentially, U.S. farm subsidies are encouraging obesity among citizens, particularly poor citizens. Obviously this sounds very strong, and quite possibly may seem overstated, but it's not.
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The current U.S.D.A. position regarding farm subsidies is exacerbating the obesity (among other things) crisis in America and is therefore irresponsibly contributing to the exponentially rising health insurance/healthcare disaster for millions of Americans. Essentially, U.S. farm subsidies are encouraging obesity among citizens, particularly poor citizens. Obviously this sounds very strong, and quite possibly may seem overstated, but it's not.

The U.S. government mainly subsidizes two giant agricultural products, corn and soybeans, which in turn are then processed (a lot) to create two ubiquitous products, high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil. A powerful but very small contingent of farmers lobby for these products to be and continue to be subsidized, which in turn leads these farmers, confident in the market prices, to grow huge amounts of corn and soybeans (silos full of them). We simply can't eat all of that corn and soybeans in its raw/natural form, and therefore we must find other uses for such a massive surplus.

Luckily for us, scientists discovered high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil as an outlet for this surplus. The large surplus of corn also feeds our mass-produced livestock, such as cows, that still have not quite adapted to digesting corn in their ruminant stomachs and therefore the pH alters and E. Coli flourishes. Manure run-off from livestock infects are fruits and vegetables turning, for instances, a seemingly harmless cantaloupe into a murderous melon.

However, as bad as that sounds, that is not the main concern of government farm subsidies, but rather how these policies encourage the proliferation of corn-syrup and hydrogenated oil into processed foods, and furthermore how subsidies make such processed products artificially cheaper, and thus more appealing to the poor, who often make decisions when buying food regarding what product essentially provides the most calories per cent spent. So, essentially, this policy encourages the poorest Americans to buy the unhealthiest, and most processed food that in turn causes health problems ranging from obesity to diabetes to heart problems that they then cannot afford to treat, and tax-payers end up paying for this, in terms of hospital and emergency room care.

So this policy does not only affect the poor, but it also affects everyone who pays taxes. At this point hopefully everyone realizes that these subsidies literally only benefit corn and soybean farmers, which represent a very low percentage of the U.S. population in terms of workforce percentage (something like 2 percent). So the government, not surprising in this cynical day and age of politics, has abandoned the common good for special interest lobbying.

The real(er) issue here is that the government, currently encouraging a detrimental and long-term expensive subsidy farm plan, could be encouraging, again through subsidies, farmers to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Creating an environment in the U.S. where a zucchini for instance costs less than a liter of cola, therefore encouraging, even if ever so slightly, people to buy said zucchini over the liter of cola.

This might be oversimplifying a very complicated issue, but it seems clear that an end of such expansive and expensive corn and soybean subsidies would do remarkable good for the country, not only for the poor, bearing the brunt of the negative effects, but for all taxpayers, that in one way or another end up, mainly through rising healthcare costs, paying for such subsidies as well. This is not to mention all of the environmental dangers of encouraging mono-culture fields, and the government's introduction of widespread subsidies for all fruits and vegetables would surely encourage farmers, hopefully, to grow a wider variety of bio-diversity in their fields. So, rather than dreaming of a U.S. where an apple is cheaper than a packet of Oreos, let's demand that it become a reality. Let's demand an end to these absurd subsidies.