U.S. farm policy grew out of the economic hardships suffered by Midwestern farmers in the 1930s due to unpredictable swings in agricultural markets and the desire to protect the national food supply. Many critics feel the policy is no longer relevant and should be redesigned to promote healthful eating.
Of the roughly $200 billion spent to subsidize U.S. commodity crops from 1995 to 2010 (commodity crops are interchangeable, storable foods such as grains and certain beans, and cotton), roughly two-thirds went to animal-feed crops, tobacco and cotton. Roughly $50 billion went to human-food crops, including wheat, peanuts, rice, oil seeds and other crops that become sweeteners, according to a database compiled by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group. About $12 billion went to crops that were turned into ethanol, a use that is consuming a growing share of the harvest.
The Agriculture Department published in April its food pyramid, which tells people how, what and how much to eat, with the aim to improve people‚Äôs health. It recommends fewer calories and more fruit, vegetables, lowfat milk and whole grains. It tells people to avoid foods made with partially hydrogenated oils and sweeteners.
Federal farm programs, on the other hand, aim to maintain the financial health of American agriculture. Subsidies encourage an abundant supply of corn, wheat, rice and soybeans. Much of the corn and soybeans is fed to livestock. Some also is turned into nutrition-poor ingredients in processed food for people. For example, toaster pastries contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil for that flaky texture and high-fructose corn syrup for a sweeter fruit filling. That translates to lots of calories, lots of artery-clogging fat and little or no healthful fiber.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/2014 04:09PM by Panchito.