Ah, the good ol' American taxpayer. We've always been there to lend a helping hand to struggling individuals. That's what America's all about, right? When senior citizens faced a poverty rate of 50 percent during the Great Depression, we were right there with Social Security to ease the pain. When those who served our country in World War II returned home, we provided the G.I. Bill to make it easier for veterans to start businesses or go to college. When large, profitable industrial farms were...umm...growing corn, the steadfast American taxpayer was there to...uh... give them money to grow more corn?
You get the point. The United States shells out billions in farm subsidies every year, and three-quarters of it goes to only ten percent of farmers, most of them already-profitable and growing commodity crops such as corn and wheat. According to Environmental Working Group (EWG), $277 billion dollars in subsidies were distributed between 1995 and 2011, and $172 billion went to commodity subsidies (tradable crops like corn, wheat and soy).
Even the National Corn Growers Association, the lobbying group for farmers of this crop, doesn't think $5 billion a year in subsidies is necessary.
In the new Farm Bill, Congress has a chance to change how we distribute subsidies to farmers. Environmental Working Group is encouraging Washington to support organic farming and smaller, independent farmers, instead of large industrial operations that don't need the money. Their petition on TakePart.com is our action of the week.
EWG is targeting Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. With their attention and support, it's possible that the next Farm Bill will help independent and sustainable farmers, thus driving down prices on organic produce and encouraging healthier diets. Join EWG and sign their petition.
See Previous Actions of the Week on TakePart:
Jonathan Harris is Participant Media's Director of Digital Social Action. He previously managed online campaigns for the Participant films Waiting For "Superman," The Help and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. See him try to be funny on Twitter @countrycaravan