A couple of weeks ago I went to a briefing on the Hill given by some of the good folks at the Cato Institute and the R Street Institute regarding the Farm Bill and it was depressing. On all levels the farm bill has been worked and twisted and manipulated and massaged by the lobbyists.
According to the briefing the subsidies which are doled out wholesale to farmers, who are on average far wealthier than the average american these days, encourage waste in all sorts of ways. Such taxpayer gifts encourage the plowing under of non-productive land which could be habitat for wildlife. They encourage the planting of crops which don’t make sense economically. (Sugar crops for instance.) They encourage farmers to over insure since the taxpayer picks up the vast majority of the premiums for crop insurance. (Then the taxpayer pays again if a claim is filed which is also larger because the farmer over insured using taxpayer dollars.)
Farming in the USA is a racket.
And SNAP, a key federal food aid program funded through the farm bill constitutes a mainline of taxpayer dollars right into the arm of companies such as Coca-Cola, and Yum Brands.
Keep drinking that Mountain Dew, it’s taxpayer funded. And so is the diabetes treatment now!
The Farm Bill 2013 allocates $760.5 billion to the food stamp program, and many corporations have gone to great lengths over the years to ensure their share of that pie is as large as possible.
One of the best examples is the soda industry. The Center for Science in the Public Interest estimated that $4 billion in SNAP money was spent on soda purchases in 2010 (this despite that the primary purpose of SNAP is to make sure low-income people can purchase nutritious food).
That’s a significant incentive. And sure enough, two All-American companies – Coca Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) and Pepsi Co, Inc. (NYSE: PEP) — helped get soda eligible for food stamps back in 1964, and continue to spend large sums on making sure it stays that way.