I've been bored at work lately and i find that writing news articles help me pass the time. i wrote this one about the farm bill that just sailed through the senate. i decided to take a different approach then most of the articles i've read and talk specifically about corn, and corn subsidies. enjoy and discuss:
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Corn Growers Priase Farm Bill
It's not often that I find myself in agreement with George W. Bush. Just the thought of it makes me a little woozy. I pinched myself last week upon hearing the news that Congress actually passed the pork laden farm bill with enough of a majority to override a promised veto from President Bush. Although, it doesn't surprise me.
The gargantuan bill, weighing in at just under 700 pages, is a monument to America's failed food policies of the last three decades. A policy that encourages surpluses of high yield, low nutrient, corn to be pumped into the food and feed supply at rates that would have been unfathomable in previous times. The National Corn Growers Association of America, one of the bills key backers, issued laudatory statements of congratulations from their website to all who supported the measure.
The $307 billion dollar farm bill passed with an overwhelming coalition of bi-partisan support, as well as endorsements from nearly all agriculture, environment, and hunger advocates, who claim that the bill will help increase the income of the average farmer, decrease dependence on non renewable biofuels, and increase food supply to help aid starving nations all over the world. However, the bill falls far short of even coming close to achieving these goals and still fails to address some of the key issues the farming industry faces in this country.
According to the Environmental Working Group; between 2003-2005, 66% of crop subsidies went to 10% of farmers, and over the past decade, over $50 billion of those subsidies have gone to corn farmers. In 2005 alone, corn farmers raked in nearly nine and a half billion dollars, while a paltry $1 million was spent on promoting farmers markets in the United States.
America's farming policy, as it stands today, encourages farmers to grow the maximum amount of yield possible per acre, with little regard to the nutrient value of the crop, nor the effect it has on the small farmer. The extreme increase in yield has driven down both the quality and demand for corn, as well as the profits that once kept many farmers afloat. As a result, corn sells on the market far below the cost of production.
In order to keep production levels high, and farmers in business, the government must pick up the slack, granting incentives and subsidies to farmers who grow certain choice crops such as corn and leaving those who don't to fend for themselves in the market place. This policy benefits large mega farmers and continually drives small family farms out of business. The farm subsidy system, created by Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz in the early 1970's, has directly shaped the American diet and, to an extent, put us in the dire health and environmental situation we are in today.
Between 1997 and 2005, the chicken industry saved $ll.25billion, and the pig industry saved $8.5billion from farm bill policies that kept corn and soybean prices below the price of production, thus insuring a steady supply of cheap, readily available meat to the American marketplace. Putting aside the biofuel debate for just a moment, what corn growers, factory farmers, and the American Government have failed to tell the public is that corn feed consumption by livestock contributes far more to global warming than SUV's, coal power plants, and incandescent light bulbs.
Nevermind the 500 million tons of manure produced on cow farms each year and the pollution that results. It takes about 9 pounds of corn feed to get one pound of beef. It takes nearly 3 pounds of corn to get one pound of pork