The 2012 Farm Bill and Agricultural Subsidies: Corporate Welfare for Farmers
This video from ReasonTV covers ground we’ve covered before many times, but since little to nothing has changed on this front, we must necessarily persevere in getting the message across any way we can. Essentially, we need to stop incentivising ecological madness, waste, disease, and inequality through public subsidising of the largest agricultural criminals.
Current agricultural subsidies in the U.S. mean that agribusinesses are selling ‘food’ (in inverted commas, as much of it is genetically modified and nutrient deficient) at less than the cost of production. This is damaging to the environment, to U.S. small-scale farmers, the U.S. economy as a whole, and it is particularly hard on struggling small-scale farmers in two-thirds world countries, who watch ‘cheap’ food getting dumped on their doorsteps at prices they cannot compete with and which often see them leaving their land to take up residence in ever-growing city slums, as I outlined in detail in Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis.
The very things we need today — a resurgence in small-scale biodiverse farms, working to supply relocalised markets with healthy food — are exactly what these subsidies directly and powerfully undermine. We are essentially shooting ourselves in the foot.
In short, if we don’t change these policies, dear reader, the efforts of permaculturists and small scale farmers worldwide will always be seriously hampered, and run roughshod over.
One of the biggest obstacles to change also happens to, potentially, be one of the biggest solutions. This is the U.S. ‘Farm Bill’, which is redrawn every five years. The current Farm Bill, finalised in 2008 (delayed from its initial expiration date of 2007), was a tremendous disappointment for the world and its struggling people, whilst being a predictable victory for the largest, richest, most ecologically inept bio-raping organisations — like Monsanto, ADM, Cargill, etc. — who used their money-lined lobbying power to get exactly what they wanted. Now, in 2012, The Farm Bill is up for renewal, and, at time of writing, despite being arguably the most important bill the U.S. senate has to discuss, with very tangible worldwide consequences that could be either significantly detrimental, or significantly constructive, it seems they are too busy to even look at it.
If current levels of political and public apathy continues, these industries will just "kick the can down the road" — preserving the Farm Bill in its current, disastrous form for another five years….
A sensibly reworked Farm Bill is exactly what is needed to bring about the ‘get small, or get out’ policies I regularly mention that could incentivise the undoing of the massively unsustainable and inequitable system Big Agri has bequeathed us with, whilst simultaneously ensuring a staged transition to ensure people don’t go hungry as large land-holdings are broken up and people begin to reskill in ecological methods.
TEDxManhattan – Ken Cook – Turning the Farm Bill into the Food Bill
Your Food, Your Water, Your Money: Why The 2012 Farm Bill Matters