Yesterday, I reported that top Bush administration officials have been openly discussing deep cuts in farm commodity subsidies. But the program, a $14.5 billion per year cash cow, is also a sacred cow. Farm-state politicians, and the agribusiness giants that love them, speciously portray farm subsidies as a "safety net for the family farm." In reality, the program helps push commodity prices down -- and arguably helps drive farms out of business. In 1935, around the time the program started, there were 7 million farms in the U.S. By 1997, the USDA reports, only 1.9 million remained. Some safety net. …
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Tom Philpott was previously Grist's food writer. He now writes for Mother Jones.
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