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Candy Corn: Can We Level the [Growing] Field in Farm Subsidies?

30 October 2023

The US is the top oil producer and consumer in the world (producing over 12 million barrels per day), with the taxpayers footing the $20 billion fossil fuel industry subsidy. Compare that to the $38 billion that subsidizes farms in this country, primarily corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, dairy and livestock feed.

That doesn’t sound too bad, you might say.

Corn, wheat, rice and sorghum are whole grains, and soybeans means tofu, right?

Sadly, they don’t really get to human consumers in their whole nutritious form. For example, most of the corn ends up as either animal feed or high fructose corn syrup in ultra processed food and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).

It’s actually pretty ironic, that the federal government subsidizes the corn, and then enlightened local governments (Boulder, District of Columbia, Philadelphia, Seattle and 4 cities in California) levy taxes on it when it comes out the other end as soda. Taxes that support the inevitable rise in healthcare costs resulting from excessive intake of SSBs.

I have some ideas for a better use of the $38 billion (although even just NOT spending it on the status quo would level the playing field a bit):

  • Support farmers in the transition to a regenerative model, making their land more supportive of the local ecosystem and more resilient in the face of extreme climate conditions.
  • Create incentives for small farmers and permaculture programs, which will add variety to the food supply in line with dietary guidelines.
  • Prop up wages for farm workers so those who give life (our food!) can have a decent life.
  • Develop and enforce programs that reduce toxic inputs to farmland and encourage composting.
  • Develop and enforce programs that end inhumane and unsafe livestock practices like CAFO’s.
  • Increase funding for nutrition education (you knew I was going to say that) and access to fresh, wholesome foods for all.

What do you think we should do with the money?

Email me 

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