Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Industrial ag can’t get enough federal bucks?

It is articles like this that really show where these Senators get their bribes. I'm fairly confident that if you were to trace the money in their coffers it would track back to Industrial Ag concerns. Either that or they directly own stock/make personal moneys off of Industrial Ag.

The other subset of this article that I can't help but find troubling is the continued idea that food stamp holders either can't or don't eat healthy food. If I never manage to do anything else I want to convince people that it is in fact CHEAPER to eat healthy than it is to purchase pre-made high cost low health foods.

Industrial ag can’t get enough federal bucks?: "
Snow us the money! David Goldstein, Washington correspondent for McClatchy newspapers, reports that three senators are standing up for the poor, neglected industrial agriculture industry against the wicked Know Your Farmer Know Your Food program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. From the story:

Sens. Pat Roberts of Kansas , John McCain of Arizona and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia complained in a recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that his agency spent $65 million last year on a program “aimed at small, hobbyist and organic producers whose customers generally consist of affluent patrons at urban farmers markets.”

Maybe someone should tell the senators about the soaring use of SNAP benefits (aka food stamps) at farmers markets. Could it be that poor people recognize good, healthy food when they eat it too? And what a slap at the farmers who grow food for direct sale to people who eat it. The lawmakers evidently don’t know how much hard work is involved if they think it’s a hobby.

Goldstein also spoke with Bruce Babcock, an economist and the director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University. The money quote (emphasis added):

[Babcock] said it was “ironic” that the senators and others objected to the USDA spending $65 million on Know Your Farmer when commodity producers received $5 billion during the past two years, and the crop insurance industry received $7 billion.

Sounds like the senators want their friends to get all the money, not just 99% of it.



notmolly said...

Oregon is actually looking at ways to make the food assistance program open up to farmer's markets, so people can have improved access to healthier options.

Did you watch any of the Jamie Oliver "Food Revolution" series? (Yay Hulu!) There are so many huge flaws in the subsidy programs, and they're a big detriment to the well-being of the very people they purport to "serve."

However--there are always reasons to be optimistic! Real foods are making their way into some school programs (along with school community gardening) and that's very exciting.

I'm a huge believer in personal liberty. Change can't come from government! It has to start in homes and families, and grow out from there... and we don't have to wait for anyone else. That's an amazing amount of power we individuals hold.

Kat said...

Our large farmers market in Salt Lake takes food stamps and is hoping to help smaller markets do the same. The Provo market is growing at a terrific rate and should be able to sustain such a process soon. I'm glad to see other areas are also doing this.

I haven't watched the series by Oliver, but I've seen excerpts. Our school here is an example of a broken program. Little man is very lactose intolerant. If he drinks the little milk at lunch, he barfs by second recess. They used to provide juice for kids like him. Three months into the school year the district changed the policy because of "compliance" issues. He was required to take the milk or not have a liquid at lunch at all. The school policy is zero flexibility - you either take "all" of the lunch or none of it. So after several weeks and three pediatrician notes, Little man takes a packed lunch. The "free lunch" we qualified for meant that he got to puke every school day and miss the end of school because they also have a puke-to-home hard line policy. That's only the tip of the iceberg as far as what's wrong with school lunch programs but its an example that makes most moms, lunch ladies and school nurses go, "What?"

I know after talking with our own wonderful lunch lady that if she had her way their would be a revolution here, I also know her budget is so small as to be a joke. (A painful joke that makes her despair of actually being able to feed the kids long term.)

I also believe in personal liberty and I also remember that our government IS us (as I'm sure you do as well). So many have forgotten that basic piece of the Great Experiment. We are the government. They are only 'they' when we don't do our job and run our politicians. Not only is change in the power of the individual, it is the only possible way to change government - at least until we finish selling it off to the corporations.