Make no mistake, the U.S. federal government is doing everything it can to make sure your junk food urges are fulfilled on the cheap.
A new study, conducted by a federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, or U.S. PIRG, finds that the U.S. government has spent $19.2 billion subsidizing corn and soy junk food ingredients since 1995. That completely dwarfs the $689 million allotted for Apple subsidies over that period, even though apples are the only fruit or vegetable to receive a substantial government subsidy.
To put that into perspective, U.S. PIRG notes, the money spent on junk food subsidies since 1995 is enough to buy nearly 52 billion Twinkies, which, if laid out end to end, could encircle the globe 132 times. The recently-rereleased Twinkie is made with 17 taxpayer-subsidized ingredients, including corn starch, corn syrup and vegetable shortening.
The House of Representatives last week passed farm legislation that would save roughly $20 billion, partly by reducing subsidy spending, USA Today reports. But the bill also does not include a food stamps program for the first time in 50 years, a measure that the White House has threatened to veto, arguing that it "could increase hunger among millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet."
U.S. PIRG lobbied the House to vote no on the bill, writing in a press release that the bill did not make any "meaningful reforms" to fix the food policy imbalance. In the report, U.S. PIRG called subsidies to corn sweeteners, corn starch, and soy oils "inexcusable.".
"[T]axpayers cannot afford to finance empty-calorie products when they foster obesity-related illnesses and raise already high health care costs," the report reads.