The use of farm subsidies

Just 1% of the $700bn-a-year subsidies given to American farmers is being used to benefit the environment, according to a report by the Food and Land Use Coalition(FOLU).  Instead, most of it goes to promoting high-emission cattle production, forest destruction and pollution from the overuse of fertiliser. The report rejects the idea that subsidies are needed to supply cheap food and found that the cost of the damage currently caused by agriculture is greater than the value of the food produced. Think about that.  It also finds that producing healthy, sustainable food would actually cut food prices, as the condition of the land improved. “There is incredibly small direct targeting of [subsidies at] positive environment outcomes, which is insane,” said Jeremy Oppenheim, principal at FOLU. “We have got to switch these subsidies into explicitly positive measures.”. (The Guardian, 16 Sep 2019)

Typically, throughout the world, agricultural subsidies were introduced to ensure adequate food availability and keep farms in business.  What has actually happened is that the subsidies are going to huge industrial-agricultural combines, which are uninterested in sustainability and which are forcing out (have forced out of business?) the small family farmer.  Once again, political connections are more important than the environment.  Why are our tax dollars going to agribusiness?

What we eat, what we breathe, the environment we live in, our standard of living, our very future – all these are matters both for philosophers and for those  of us who want a calm, happy, rewarding life, as free as possible from stress and bad health.  The problem is that big business and money talk louder than anything else and skew our way of life.  Where is the magic boundary between the common sense desire for a healthy life, sufficient money, happiness, and the stress caused by big money in politics and the way it undermines decent society?   I am bound, correctly, to swear off party politics, but where is the line that should never be crossed?    Comments, please!

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