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THIRTY YEARS OF FARM BILL SUBSIDIES

THAT SUPPORT COMMODITY CROPS LIKE CORN


BUT NOT CROPS LIKE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
HAVE SHAPED THE WAY AMERICANS EAT
AND CONTRIBUTED TO THE RISE IN DIET-RELATED
HEALTH PROBLEMS LIKE OBESITY.
OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS,
THE PERCENTAGE OF FARM BILL SUBSIDIES GOING
TO LARGE FARMS HAS DOUBLED TO 54 PERCENT.
OVER THE PAST TWENTY YEARS,
THE AVERAGE SIZE OF U.S. FARMS
HAS DOUBLED TO 441 ACRES.
FOUR FOOD CROPS, CORN, SOY, WHEAT, AND RICE,
RECEIVE ABOUT 60% OF SUBSIDY PAYMENTS.
THESE SAME FOUR CROPS MAKE UP ABOUT 66% OF
THE CALORIES CONSUMED BY AMERICANS.
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Good weather and fertile soil yielded a substantial
surplus of corn in the 8:os. The excess cheap grain
was turned into a money-making product. corn
whiskey, a drink that became so common that the
average American man drank 8 ounces of it a day.
Starting in the jos, high-fructose corn syrup
emerges as a byproduct of a market once again
overowing with cheap corn. It replaces sugar in
nearly every product on supermarket shelves,
most notably in soft drinks. Cheaper to produce
than ever before, sodas also become bigger. Today,
the average American male aged ::j drinks 6
ounces of soda a day.
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Between j8j and :oo, large farmsdehned as
those with $:o,ooo or more in annual revenue
received an ever growing proportion of federal
subsidies and made up an ever greater share of
production compared with small farms.
Change in amount of subsidies received
Change in market share
8 OZ DAILY 56 OZ DAILY
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A look at how the diet and health of Americans have been inuenced by the abundance of cheap corn
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NUMBER OF SUPER-SIZED PRODUCTS
INTRODUCED BY FOOD COMPANIES: +1000%
PERCENTAGE OF OVERWEIGHT
OR OBESE ADULTS: +19%
TONS OF HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN
SYRUP PRODUCED: +3180%
+246%
-68%
+40%
-64%
Roosevelt's New Deal farm programs were designed
to keep prices high by preventing overproduction.
If prices were low, the government paid farmers to
keep their grain off the market. Lxcess grain was
stored in the government's ever-normal granary,"
to be dispensed when supply ran low.
Larl Butz, Nixon's Secretary of Agriculture,
reversed the goal of subsidies, encouraging over-
production by guaranteeing farmers a minimum
price for their harvests. Today, the government
pays money to farms based not on their harvests
but on their size and production history.
1930s 1970s
Grain supply decreases as
a result of farm policy
If prices drop, farmers
receive loans, which they
can pay back by selling
their crop when prices
rise, or by giving their
crop to the government.
Surpluses are kept off
the market
Increased harvests are allowed
to ood the market
Iarmers are paid a
minimum price even
when market values
drop as a result of
increased supply.
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Quantity Quantity
Grain supply increases as
a result of farm policy
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$ $

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8%
6%
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