161015 "The Farm Bill"

For many of you who do not pay attention to political primaries or watch what congress easily passes through every 5 years, you may have never heard of the Farm Bill. This gigantic and OLD piece of legislation that is brought out, revised slightly and voted on with very little argument from either side. But inside this bill lies the clues as to why and how the food industry has been able to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, and spur an epidemic of obesity. 

Now, for the sake of brevity and your limited attention span I will try to paraphrase and give a quick synopsis of the Farm bill through my (admittedly) limited knowledge. 

The Farm Bill was first brought about during the 1930's when America was suffering. We had the stock market crash, the dust bowl, huge unemployment and rampant poverty. As a response from the government to get calories into the starving public, the bill intended to subsidize commodities like corn, wheat, rice and soybeans. These were easily stored for long periods of time and you can modify them innumerably to create FOOD. So, it was written into policy and passed as law; a document that has become a catch all for our Nationwide nutrition policy, basis for food supplement programs ( WIC, Food Stamps, SNAP), and a political blarney stone that everyone wants to rub when it comes to getting elected. 

$140 Billion is what the Farm Bill will be allocated by the U.S. Congress for all the subsidies that I mentioned above, plus a small fraction to the Farmers that it was originally named after. In fact, one criticism of the bill is that the top 10% of farming conglomerates take most of the money allocated because of political ties, NOT SURPRISING, and mom&pop farmers are really left with very little. 

So where does that money break out to? Well, let's dig a little deeper. Farming in the U.S. is as diverse as our population. Subsidies happen from coast to coast and the bill covers just about everything grown. Farmers go through hard times, weather, drought, floods, bugs... and this subsidy program is there to help. But it really likes to favor those in the corn and soy business. Really! I'm sure thats a shocker. 

In a five year allocation of funds, it has been noted that corn and soy received over 16.9 billion dollars in funds whereas the apple subsidy is 262 million. That is a huge disparity and I will say I am not doing the financial services community justice by just throwing out numbers to compare  but it shows that if the government were going to throw a a dollar on the calorie craps table, they would most certainly put their money on High Fructose corn Syrup instead of apples! 

Through research you will find that there is little doubt that the products developed by the corn and soy food industries are very important for the government. Cheap calories help those who need it. Logically that makes the most sense as a government. Feed the people and keep them happy. 

It's Politics.

Iowa is the first state to vote in the U.S. Primary and is the Political Hub for all running for the highest office. It is also the home of Corn. Yes. And no one is ever willing to piss off corn. The political ramifications for starting a fight in this area are more than any politician cares to take on. Between squabbling about emails and expenses, these politicians do not even look at the farm bill or nutrition reform during their run for office. 

If you are going to change that way people eat it takes almost a sacrificial mentality, and when you approach the Farm bill it becomes more fights then you want to even touch. Think about what would happen if you decided to take on Corn? The Farm Bill is so linked with food subsidy programs that the candidate would immediately be labeled as a horrible person for trying to take food away from the poor. The Food Industry has strategically placed all their strengths in one large document that is rarely given a second look.

Obesity in this country is more than just a personal choice problem, it is more than just a city or regional policy problem, it is a systemic problem from the very top of our political food chain. With that being said, the fight must bring attention to to large pieces of legislation like the Farm Bill to begin to reverse the course we are on. I hope this makes you think about not only what you put in your mouth but how that 'Food' got there in the first place!


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Skill Development:

Practice for 12 Mins

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21 Snatch 95/65
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