Farm Bill Follies

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July 29, 2013 by losingourcool

The Farm Bill remains under siege—at least those parts that provide for low-income food security and conservation. Some background:

A Farm Bill Minus Food?

Cut the Fat-Cat Farms, not SNAP and conservation

Fair Shares of Food

Ecosystems Over Gadgets

From the first-listed piece:

Every five years or so since the 1970s, Congress has passed farm bill after farm bill with big majorities and little controversy, thanks to a broad base of support from three disparate constituencies: farmers, backed by grain traders, meatpackers, food processors and marketers, whose profits depend on the ample staple-crop production that is encouraged by farm subsidies; low-income American families, who depend on SNAP to make ends meet; and corporations for whom SNAP is a subsidy, because it helps employees and their families survive on lower wages.

On another side of the farm bill, environmental groups have pushed for provisions that would limit the ecological damage done by agriculture, especially soil erosion, and water pollution. If SNAP was to be spun off as separate legislation and conservation programs eliminated, agricultural supports and SNAP would be left vulnerable, each sitting on its own one-legged political stool.

We are not the only country facing these decisions. The global agricultural market has proven incapable of closing the gap between the crop prices farmers require to remain viable and the prices that many low-income households can afford to pay in highly unequal societies. Governments worldwide find it necessary to step in and close the gap. Even in the United States, —where there’s enough food to supply our entire requirement for calories and protein almost twice over— government intervention has long been necessary.

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