by intern Shauna Nep
You may already be aware that currently, over 70% of USDA’s farm payments go to the wealthiest and largest 10% of the producers of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and rice. The smaller farms and the growers of fruits, veggies, and livestock receive little support, if anything.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been helping us understand these government payments and ensuring that their distribution to farmers is transparent by tracking where the billions in farm subsidies go and releasing this info to the public. The EWG database allows you to search for government subsidies by state, county, congressional district, farm, and also by crop.
Unfortunately, the changing the law to say that the USDA could decide whether to release the information and the administration chose not to spend the money to do it.
Well, this is bad news. The EWG introduced this database in order to motivate the public to demand a sensible and fair Food and Farm Bill. However without the data from the USDA, the EWG will not be able to tell the public which farmers (and which crops) are receiving large payments, and which are not. This is especially important since these payments are still a large part of the reason that the food system produces more fast food than healthy food.
This just means we will have to pay extra close attention to the Food and Farm Bill happenings with the hope that we will end up with a bill which encourages government support programs that are responsible, fair, and effective.
For the full article at EWG’s site, click here.
For some other coverage:
Kansas City News
Marion Nestle of Food Politics
[photo courtesy of flickr creative commons, grantmac]