I’ve spoken about the broken nature of U.S. farm subsidies before. But in the light of a recent New York Times article I read on the subject, I thought it warranted a little more exposure.
As part of the Farm Bill, the federal government recently doled out $11.3 billion in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies to 50 billionaires.
And this 11 billion figure is actually a conservatively >em>low estimate, because it doesn’t include crop insurance subsidies. (Which don’t have income limits or requirements like traditional farm subsidies do.)
And who says the U.S. farming industry isn’t a big business?
One look at the roster of Farm Bill beneficiaries should clear up that common misconception. Some of the billionaires on that list include Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft), Charles Schwab (yes, THE Charles Schwab), and S. Truett Cathy (the notorious evangelical owner of Chick-fil-A).
This, my friend, is not a joke. Our government has been conducting business this way for years, while we sit back idly and say nothing. And I’m here to tell you that the time to speak out is now.
Why? Because as I write this, there’s a new Farm Bill on the table. And it includes a House proposal to cut $40 billion over 10 years from the food stamp program, which helps to provide food for 47 million of our fellow Americans. (The Senate proposal would only cut $4.5 billion over the same period. Still no small sum–but a lot better than a whopping $40 billion.)
But that’s not all. Other provisions of this revamped bill include drug testing, work requirements, and income means testing for all food stamp recipients. Which, if you ask me, just twists the legislative knife a little deeper.
There’s no question that a small portion of food stamp recipients do take unfair advantage of this form of government assistance. No one’s denying that. But come on now. Are these really the people who are robbing our country blind?
Please. Let’s be clear about just who’s doing the fleecing here.
I can’t stand behind any legislation that would shower billionaires with even more taxpayer money than they already receive–largely unbeknownst to those taxpayers, I should add. All while forcing the poor to jump through fiery hoops in order to receive access to food for their families.
It’s shameful, really. But this is the way our system works, and people need to be aware of it.
We also need to be aware of the other ways in which this legislation is sabotaging the American people. What crops do you think these government handouts are supporting? (Hint–nothing anyone should actually be eating.)
The Farm Bill is designed to sustain production of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and sorghum. All darlings of the processed food industry, which is slowly but surely killing us with every passing year.
With the exception of cotton, we don’t need any of these crops. Though the food industry and the USDA have done a very good job of making us think we do.
Why do you think refined soybean oil and high-fructose corn syrup are so cheap, anyway? You want to know why you can buy a bag of Doritos for a couple of dollars?
Because the American government already paid for a part of it. That’s why.
It amazes me that we’re still puzzling over the runaway obesity epidemic in this country. Because crooked farm subsidies are hands down one of the biggest causes. It’s a homegrown problem in more ways than one. And yet, no one’s really talking about it.
But I think it’s about time that we started, don’t you?
Nixon, Ron. “Billionaires received U.S. farm subsidies, report finds.” The New York Times. 7 Nov 2013.