Clark Wolf is the host and organizer. The panel—on food and politics—includes me, talking about my memoir, Slow Cooked, An Unexpected Life in Food Politics; Chloe Sorvino, author of Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed, and the Fight for the Future of Meat; Alex Prud’homme, author of Dinner With The President: Food, Politics and the History of Breaking Bread at the White House; and Tanya Holland, author of Tanya Holland’s California Soul. Free, but register here. It starts at 5:00 p.m. and lasts one hour.
Where do farm subsidies go? Now we know!
Yesterday, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the latest update of its highly entertaining farm subsidy database. The links cover $245 billion in federal farm subsidies distributed from 1995 -2009. The site lets you search for subsidies by state, county, congressional district, and specific farm, and by commodity. There is also a national summary.
As the EWG puts it:
taxpayer-funded federal farm subsidies lavished on the wealthiest farms have resisted even modest efforts for reform. Introduced after the Great Depression and once the savior of struggling small family farms, these subsidy programs have been co-opted by the largest agriculture interests and now work to ensure profits for plantation-scale growers of corn, soybeans, rice, cotton and wheat.
I went straight to New York State. Alas, my home state only ranks #30 in payments and our farmers only got $156 million in 2009. Some of them got as little as $1,000 or $2,000 (numbers in Illinois, Kansas, and Iowa go into the millions). Even so, corn and dairy farmers in Rep. (now Sen.) Gillibrand’s district did better than the New York average last year.
For a quick lesson in the complexity of farm supports, take a look at the chart of corn subsidies in New York State from 1995 to 2009. No wonder farm supports are so hard to understand.
Let’s hope this site inspires people to start gearing up for dealing with the next Farm Bill, coming up in a year or so. The EWG’s farm subsidy primer is a great place to begin. Happy searching!