Thursday, May 22, 2008

Farm Bill a Mixed Blessing

My response to the Beckmann op-ed from yesterday's post. Printed in the Washington Times.
The 2008 farm bill is indeed a mixed blessing ("The minority farm-bill vote," Editorial, yesterday). For hungry Americans, it's a relief that this bill, so late in coming, finally passed. At long last and much needed, the Emergency Food Assistance Program increases will start flowing in a time of rising prices and rising need. Yet it's shameful that the legislation doesn't address some root causes of hunger and poor health.

If ever there was a tool to fight poverty on both domestic and international fronts, this was it. We missed an opportunity to limit commodity subsidies that are damaging to our own farmers of modest means and poor farmers overseas who cannot compete with our artificially cheap crops. We kept in place the subsidies that make unhealthy processed foods much cheaper than fresh vegetables.

I sincerely hope that in five years we can have this debate again and pass a bill that will limit our destructive behavior instead of just giving ourselves another Band-Aid.


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