Summer: the season of barbecues, baseball games, and backyard fun. It’s also the time of year when the American farming industry comes into full swing producing the crops we hold near and dear.
The pastoral ideal of golden fields of corn and wheat is what comes to mind for most people, and they’d be on the right track. Corn, soybeans, and wheat are the three biggest crops grown in this country, and — along with cows, pigs, and chicken — make up the bulk of our farming output.
There’s a reason for this: The federal government heavily subsidizes those products. In fact, the bulk of U.S. farming subsidies go to only 4 percent of farms — overwhelmingly large and corporate operations — that grow these few crops.
For the most part, that corn, soy, and wheat doesn’t even go to feed our populace. More of it goes into the production of ethanol — which is also heavily subsidized — and into the mouths of those cows, pigs, and chickens stuffed into feedlots. Those grains purchased by the feedlots are also federally subsidized, allowing producers to buy grains at below market prices.
When we do eat these foods, they’re sold back to us in unhealthy forms, pumped full of high fructose corn syrup and growth hormones. Large corporate farms and feedlots also poison waterways, drain aquifers, and pollute the air.
Meanwhile, small farmers continue to go broke, thanks to the low cost of foods subsidized by the government for corporate buyers. Even the few companies that provide seeds and equipment for farmers receive their own tax breaks from state governments, while farmers are stuck with the bill of goods sold to them from companies like John Deere and Monsanto.
Does this help feed America? Not really: We still buy most of our foodfrom far-flung places. So why is our government subsidizing this production model?
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