But hey, Dr. Weiland isn't running for anything, so he's free to start the conversation about why our current "fat farm bill" is unhealthy for America right now:
We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on farm subsidies since 1996 with almost 80 percent going to the production of four major groups: food grains, feed grains, oilseeds and cotton. The food industry has profited by the mere fact that it is relatively inexpensive to fatten cattle with government-subsidized grain and to buy cheap industrial food additives such as flour, corn starch, corn syrup and soybean oil for its products.
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service Food Review, Volume 25, Issue 3, "nutritious foods have increased in price by nearly 38 percent" while the price of high-calorie items such as soft drinks has decreased by 25 percent since the inception of the Freedom to Farm Act in 1996. The price for this cheap food comes at the expense of our health, however.
We have more than 33 million people in the United States alone with the type of diabetes seen in people who are overweight. Additionally, our government health agencies are concerned about the epidemic of childhood obesity [Dr. Kevin J. Weiland, "Federal Farm Subsidies Fattening America," that Sioux Falls paper, 2010.05.14].
Fattening America? Well, Kristi Noem doesn't look much worse for wear....
Blue Dogs like Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota continue to defend the status quo, where the focus of the farm bill is on propping up corporate farms rather than feeding Americans good food. But like it or not, our farm policy supports crappy food and crappy health outcomes. Even anti-government Republicans like Senator John Thune disguise corporate welfare as a "farm safety net" that favors the wrong crops and makes neither economic nor environmental sense.
Dr. Weiland is right: we need a broader conversation about farm policy. Farm policy shouldn't be just about production and profit any more than energy policy should be. Farm policy should involve all stakeholders: farmers, eaters, doctors, and everyone else affected by the externalities of unhealthy industrial agriculture.
Bonus Web Reading: