Top | Sift

Subsidy shenanigans

(article, Culinate staff)

Yes, it's true: the feds are actually considering responding to Mark Bittman's call and overhauling the government's agricultural subsidies. But as William Neuman pointed out in the New York Times recently, the overhaul is less of a true reform and more of a shell game: "In essence, lawmakers would replace one subsidy with a new one."

As the nonprofit Food & Water Watch recently reported, a new study on government subsidies has concluded that reducing them won't help curb America's obesity problem: "As the debate over deficit reduction rages on, it seems likely that one type of farm subsidies, direct payments, will soon end. While cutting farm subsidies has been a rallying cry for many groups, the paper explains how simply ending direct payments will not make processed junk food more expensive or healthy food cheaper."

And a new policy in the West and Southwest points up the ongoing (and worsening) conflict between farming and water usage: paying farmers to stop farming so their water can be diverted to cities. Sure, farmers can now make more money by not farming, but what then happens to the rural communities that have traditionally depended on farming?

Finally, keep your eyes open — the Farm Bill, that mammoth piece of subsidy-packed federal legislation up for renewal every five years, may be rewritten in the next week or so, presumably without much input from progressive reformers.