Earlier this month the US House of Representatives, on a party-line vote, broke with tradition by stripping from the farm bill the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). What’s left in the bill is billions of dollars of subsidies mostly for farming conglomerates.
The US Senate passed a much more balanced bill last month. The farm bill sets US agricultural, food, and resource conservation policy for the next five years.
Over the past 18 years, our government has doled out an average of $7 billion per year of taxpayer funds to support the livestock and dairy industries. Instead, their products should be taxed to reimburse state and federal governments for the uncounted billions in increased medical costs and lost productivity associated with their consumption. Conversely, a sound national nutrition program based on vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and nuts can save additional billions in reduced social costs.
I am all in favor of reducing our national deficit, government waste, and medical costs. But that’s not going to happen by taking nutritious food from the mouths of 47 million of our society’s least privileged members.