Food Policy

Runaway Farm Subsidies and Diet Guideline Fights: Federal Food Policy Is a Mess

Two recent examples illustrate deep and broad problems.

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Corn field
Credit: fishhawk / photo on flickr

Recently, a pair of controversial federal food issues has made the news. The unpredicted increase in USDA farm subsidies and continuing fallout from the new dietary guidelines have captured headlines. They're worth focusing on together, as they represent some varied and truly awful federal food law and policy.

Earlier this week, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Tx.) blasted critics of farm subsidies, claiming we live in a "fantasyland" where such subsidies aren't needed.

Conaway's remarks come as news broke this week that Congress has woefully underestimated the cost of farm subsidies. The latest figures show taxpayers are on the hook for $13.9 billion this year, according to reports. A separate estimate shows congressional predictions fell more than a billion dollars short of actual predicted payment figures.

When the most recent Farm Bill passed, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), then-chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, touted the law as "an opportunity to cut spending." What's happened since? Spending has only risen. Last year, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group predicted subsidies could reach $30 billion by 2018.

I'm no economist, but doesn't encouraging farmers to plant as much corn and soy as they can help depress prices, which in turn triggers the very conditions (depressed priced, supply gluts) under which taxpayers are then put on the hook to pay for crop insurance subsidies?

It's facts and factors like these that make Rep. Conaway's "fantasyland" comments appear beyond the pale. If we are indeed living in such a fantasyland, then it's a fantasyland designed by Rep. Conaway, Sen. Stabenow, and their fellow lawmakers in Congress.

There's nothing inherently wrong with crop insurance. But taxpayers shouldn't have to pay to insure farmers against risk any more than they should be on the hook for subsidizing NASCAR drivers' auto insurance. "If crop insurance is an important element of farming," I wrote in 2012, "then let farmers buy such insurance on the open market—without taxpayer support—and, if need be, pass the costs on to consumers."

While farm subsidies stink, consumers and taxpayers are treated no better by the federal government's malleable and controversial dietary guidelines.

I interviewed journalist Nina Teicholz, a thoughtful and leading critic of the guidelines, last year. Teicholz, author of the bestseller The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, was invited to speak at a national food policy conference in Washington earlier this month. That was, until the conference's sponsor, the Consumer Federation of America, disinvited her.

Asked to comment on its snub of Teicholz, a CFA spokesman told Politico curtly that "it didn't work out."

Teicholz, who would have been the lone dissenting voice on the panel over the issue of saturated fat, was forced to book space at the National Press Club to deliver the talk she would have given at the CFA event.

While the CFA is a private group and should be free to invite or disinvite whomever it wants for its panels, Teicholz told Politico she was disinvited after other panelists said they wouldn't sit on the panel with her. Those other panelists included a USDA official and a member of the congressionally mandated Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

It's one thing for the CFA to stifle dissent. It's quite another for it to apparently do so at the behest of those in government who help set federal nutrition policy.

"To my mind, this is an effort to exclude uncomfortable realities, where you simply don't allow alternative viewpoints to be part of the conversation," Teicholz said.

Needlessly using taxpayer money to pay farmers. Attacking critics of the policy as living in some sort of "fantasyland." Helping to stifle dissenting voices in the debate over federal dietary policy. This is federal food policy at work.

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122 responses to “Runaway Farm Subsidies and Diet Guideline Fights: Federal Food Policy Is a Mess

  1. So,Old McDonald’s nothing but a crony socialist. E-i-E-I-O

    1. This does explain why Iowans are such happy socialists.

    2. my buddy’s mother-in-law makes $74 /hour on the internet . She has been out of work for seven months but last month her pay check was $20063 just working on the internet for a few hours. navigate to this website??????? http://www.elite36.com

  2. OT –

    “The Obama administration has waived punitive restrictions for violating religious freedom on Saudi Arabia and a handful of other countries, arguing that national security concerns supersede the International Religious Freedom Act….

    “”In accordance with the IRF Act, presidential actions for Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, and Sudan have been implemented,” press secretary John Kirby told reporters today. “We have waived application of presidential actions with respect to Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan following determinations that the important national interest of the United States required exercising this waiver authority.””

    1. We are a nation of laws, not men.

      1. And the law says President Peace Prize can ignore human rights violations when it’s convenient, you teabagging bible thumping loon!

        1. Whoa! What are us bitter clngers? Chopped liver?

      2. You’re fooling yourself. We’re living in a dictatorship!

        1. penis + potato + ocean liner?

          1. Change ocean liner to Titanic and I’m with ya.

        2. I long for an anarchosyndicalist commune. We would take
          it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.
          But all the decision of that officer would have to be ratified
          at a special biweekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,–
          but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more–

          1. But all the decision of that officer would have to be ratified
            at a special biweekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,–
            but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more–

            So you’re saying that nothing will ever get done… I like it!

            1. Beats the hell out of being repressed, doesn’t it?

              1. I forget whose it is, but I really like the idea of needing a 2/3rds majority to pass a law and just 50% to repeal one.

        3. Excellent! That means that if the tumble get’s a little rough, it’ll be retaliation. I’m OK wit dat.

    2. Platform committee take note, tar and feather the republican enemy within and delete that idiotic abortion straddle. We need to be clearing the decks for action when The Crone’s minions force Bernie to walk the plank into the briny deep. A LOT of idealistic pre-menopausal voters will be casting about for an alternative to God’s Own Prohibitionists? a wholly-owned subsidiary of Landover Baptist Church?

      With 5% of the vote, libertarians’ll be writing the law and amending the constitution the way the communists and prohibitionists did a century ago. Back then nobody associated communo-fascist socialism with gulags, forced labor, altruistic eugenics extermination camps and mass brainwashing through government control of the media. The tipping point is upon us.

    3. A better example of principals, not principles, cannot be found.

  3. “Last week an article by the Chronicle Herald detailed multiple instances of Syrian refugees assaulting Canadian children. The article featured comments by a woman nicknamed “Missy” who explained how her daughter had been choked with a chain and her son had been visibly threatened on the soccer field.

    The story was pulled soon after it was posted with members of the left-wing media decrying the story as “racist,” “Islamophobic,” “xenophobic” or simply just not true.”

    http://www.therebel.media/exce…..g_cover_up

    1. Well, they are getting their shot at the good life. Yay.

  4. Pre-publication buzz for a book scheduled to come out in Fall 2017.

    I’m not sure that the writing has even started.

    Of course, it’s by “[t]he artist formerly known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince.”

  5. Earlier this week, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Tx.) blasted critics of farm subsidies, claiming we live in a “fantasyland” where such subsidies aren’t needed.

    Shut the fuck up, Mike. Oh waaaaah, those poor massive industrial farms could never get financing otherwise and we’ll be stuck with double triple food prices AND die in the streets. Food deserts will become an actual thing!!! How about discontinuing food dumping programs, shithead?

    Of course removing those subsidies is a drop in the bucket compared to the +$17trillion shitshow federal debt. All aboard the chop-choo Assfuck Middle Class, next stop: your wallet!!

    On the positive side today to cheer me up, today I’m going to buy a lot of fresh Maine uni and live sea urchins today. Yippie skippy I am excited ! Though I plan to mostly eat the uni raw, minutes after removing, I would like to solicit for any recommended and tested cooked urchin recipes any readers might be willing to share. Sunday is going to be uni day.

    1. Urchin recipes? You’ve come to the right place. Many libertarians own monocle mines where orphaned urchins labor night and day. When they die off they’re sold to restaurants.

      1. damn you

      2. Mine are drying the grass with hand towels so they can it with hand shears.A nice even 2 inches.They even get to keep the clippings.

      3. This may be true, but I have yet to meet a fellow robber baron that sources exclusively from capsised refugee boats! Do you have an associate toward parts Florida?

        1. I don’t know what you’re implying, sir, but I run a respectable labor-recruiting firm in Miami, and I’ll not have you implying that we’re selling enslaved able-bodied orphans at very reasonable prices.

    2. The only urchins I eat are orphans, and I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw.

    3. The best urchin recipe:
      Remove urchins from package,
      rinse vigorously,
      slice lengthwise and invert them,
      Throw them in the garbage can,
      Eat the oysters you were smart enough buy.

      1. Also plan to buy oysters. I am salivating.

        1. Best oysters: half shell (with horseradish and Tabasco) or fried (with hot cocktail sauce)?

          That’s one life’s wonderful dilemmas.

          1. I’ve got a can of smoked oysters in the cabinet. After reading this I think I need to go to the store and get some Ritz crackers and sharp cheddar. Though I’ll have to wait until after my wife goes to work to eat them. The smell makes her complain to no end.

          2. I’m gonna do half shell with this stuff in place of cocktail sauce. I could drink cups of that ketchup.

          3. Chincoteague and Blue Pointe are the best around here. Tabasco definitely, lemon, salt pepper, lime, olive oil, yummy.

          4. Grilled with a little bit of parma, white wine, and good olive oil.

            Amateurs.

            1. *Grilled in the half shell…

      2. Don’t forget your choice of alcohol.

      3. I’m sorry, but the taste of urchin just doesn’t do shit for me. It tastes like creamy sea water and has the consistency of an uncooked scallop. And nothing really improves it, regardless of preparation.

        1. My wife and I shared a tray of uni ands we got at H-Mart last week. I am down with sea urchin, though I disagree with its characterisation by one famous food magazine as “the new bacon.” The new bacon IS bacon.

          1. Heh, you THINK that’s what it was. I know the Koreans. Everything is really dog or cat. They have this molecular shape shifter device that can make dog or cat look like anything!

            1. Don’t lump all Koreans in together. You’re talking about the South Koreans.

              In North Korea, everything is either grass or tree bark.

              1. I head something about them chewing roots, for the common good.

      4. I knew there was a reason I liked you Sloopy.

    4. Buying Maine seafood and no lobstah?

      1. More in the mood for “lower” shellfish recently. We’ll see.

        1. It gets “lower” than a giant cockroach that’s been eating garbage off the ocean floor for the better part of a decade?

          1. Oystahs!

            1. Filtering lobster shit from the water. Winnah

              1. I’m gonna choose not to think about that and shell some oysters here in a bit, make some margaritas…

                1. When all is said and done, we’re all shiteaters. The cosmic circle of life two girls one cup.

                2. 1800 silver, Paolo Lazzoroni Triplo, fresh lime juice.

                  3 oz tequilla, 1 oz triplo, 1 oz lime juice.

                  I’m new at this, not sure I have it right yet. At first I did 2 oz of the lime juice but it seemed too limey. Any experienced at this have any advice?

                  1. Not that experienced, but I like to do 1:1:1 white tequila:cointreau:straight like. Can’t handle Cuervo though, shit makes me ill. Tequila kicks my bass to begin with.

                    Oddly enough for gin and tonic, my go-to gin is rotgut from Poland Springs. I find that bottom shelf gives better flavour to a g&t. Prefer to sip “refined” gins straight-up.

                    1. I love autocorrect. Snuggles.

                    2. I’m more experienced with gin. I typically just get Tanqueray and mix it with tonic water, throw in a lime wedge and a couple olives.

                      But no exp with Tequila. It does have a hellacious kick to it compared with other alcohol.

                    3. Bombay Sapphire or GTFO.

                    4. Well, right now I have this tequila and I’m fishing for margarita expertise. I’m in the experimental phase here…

                    5. I can’t help. Tequila is horrible shit that I don’t touch. I have two bottles of Don Julio (1 reposado, 1 anejo) and I don’t bother with either.

                    6. I rarely and I mean rarely ever drink it. But for some reason, I wanted to make a margarita.

                    7. Tanqueray Batch 10 is so much better than any other Gin I’ve tried. Used to be a Bombay Sapphire fan, but it’s Batch 10 from now on.
                      Unless the philistine bar/restaurant/liquor stores is out ;-(

                    8. Hendricks or GTFO…

                      More amateurism….

                    9. Do you people live in trailers? Or maybe just uncouth Yankees? Or both?

                  2. 4 oz tequila.
                    1 1/4 oz Salerno blood orange liqueur.
                    3/4 oz lime juice.
                    1/2 oz agave nectar

                    Shake over ice
                    Serve on the rocks
                    You’re welcome.

      2. Man, striper season is coming up soon too.

        *looks longingly into the distance*

        Betcha I could throw a football over them mountains…

        1. Rockfish, yummy.

        2. Isn’t stripper season all year?

          1. + several $1 bills.

        3. I read that as ‘stripper season’.

          I didn’t know they had a season. I learn something every day.

          1. Yeah, you if you wanna catch fresh stripper you gotta catch them when their student loan bills come due. Since so many of them are only doing it to pay the cost of their nursing school loans.

    5. Texas has a lot to be ashamed of. First Lyndon, then Adolf Briscoe, then Bush, then Bush Too, then Ted, and now this slimy toadstool. Ma Ferguson had more cojones than all of them put together.

      1. Don’t look at Massachusetts, or you’ll need a fainting couch.

  6. What, Cronyism costs more than we thought it would? I am shocked!

  7. Pope beings 12 Lesbians to the Vatican.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36063300

    1. Holy orgy?

      1. “All of those leaving with the Pope were already living on Lesbos before the deal was implemented, the Vatican said.”

        1. The Lebanese left feeling othered…

    2. Private performance for the Pope and his staff?

      Madonna Mia!

  8. Whoever it was that recommended that General Tso’s documentary on Netflix a few weeks ago that was great, thanks. The sushi documentary (actually just about international tuna brokering) on Netflix was also really great. Same with the one about a 6th generation sake brewery.

  9. So, “USDA official and a member of the congressionally mandated Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee” refused to talk with a skeptic of consensus dietary science.

    For some reason, this sounds familiar.

    Next up: RICO investigations and jail time for skeptics of USDA’s MyPlate dietary guidelines?

  10. “While the CFA is a private group and should be free to invite or disinvite whomever it wants for its panels, Teicholz told Politico she was disinvited after other panelists said they wouldn’t sit on the panel with her. Those other panelists included a USDA official and a member of the congressionally mandated Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.”

    What a surprise.

    1. Also. Bill Nye approves!

      1. I freaking love science, man! Unless it’s science that goes against my political ideologies.

      2. Nye must be one of them goofball atheists Trump’s party has been trained to bark at. Palin’s leading the Divine Deniers Tabernacle Choir against the social pressure test specimen.

    2. And bureaucrats wonder why people are starting to not believe a word that comes out of their pieholes.

      1. I sure don’t.

        And I have hard examples of it in my experience.

        Here’s an OT (but related story since it involves how full of it bureaucrats can be).

        The Mayor of the small town where I own my business suddenly shut down the local fire department shifting it over to a neighboring (and much larger) city c. 10km (about 7 miles) away. In the letter she sent to people here was a lovely piece about how it was about saving money and that services would in no way be disrupted. Yeah right.

        So the other day a fireman shows up at my door asking about a rumor he heard from a parent that comes to my daycare. Oooh, intrigue. Anyway, long story short, turns out the city wanted the land where the department was to sell it to a land developer. The city has undertaken the initiative to increase housing and the developer specializes in condos.

        Never mind the urban planning department’s behavior towards people who want to expand their buildings to improve business revenues.

        1. Reminds me of Deblasio who has been trying to get rid of the horse carriage trade in NYC – those poor horses! Of course the truth is that the horse barn stands on land he wants to flip over to one of his donors.

          1. force and fraud

  11. “she was disinvited after other panelists said they wouldn’t sit on the panel with her.”

    The science is settled!

    1. When a prog speaks it’s settled.

  12. OT: Johnny Football making like a rock star.

    “Johnny Manziel owes a lot of money after trashing a rental house during two nights of wild partying earlier this month, according to the attorney for the company that owns the property.

    A letter written by that attorney, Niki Ghazian, and sent to Manziel’s lawyer asks for $31,580 from the former Cleveland Browns quarterback for “extensive damage” to the $4.5-million West Hollywood property.”

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/znmh58x

    1. “$31,580”

      “Hey, sweetheart, move over and let me reach into the small-change jar.”

      1. Johnny Fuckface is gonna make Ryan Leaf look like a sound investment in a couple more years.

    2. It’s not a party till somebody shits in the microwave.

      1. “Manziel was passed out,” Goodwin said. “There was cocaine all over the kitchen table, and mushrooms were still out on the table in front of him. There was booze everywhere … broken glasses over the floor and a Champagne glass in a tree.”

        Sounds like they had a good time to me.

    3. Why in the world would anyone sign that guy? Who needs to distraction and hassle?

    1. Journalist Nina Teicholz, in her book The Big Fat Surprise, documents how the anti-fat fanatics reviewed each other’s papers, funded each other’s projects and drove the doubters out of dietary science.

      Hmmm….what other brand of “settled science” uses these tactics?

      1. If this meme goes global, it could heat things up!

    2. I like a lot of his stuff. But he has this whopper in his diatribe against sugar:

      “The idea that it was just about eating too much came later. Yet to this day the World Health Organisation opines: “The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.”

      The WHO is right. It’s simple math. If you consume excess your body stores them or discards them. If you consume less you can not increase your mass. Conservation of mass is real.

      1. Yes that is true too many calories will make you fat. However, eating the right foods will help most people eat less and they will be healthier. 500 calories of protein is better for you than 500 calories of sugar. Sugar and refined carbs are two critical factors in making people obese. Sugar is used in “low fat” foods in place of fat where it (sugar) is more likely to add fat to your body than the full fat replacement.

        Eating whole foods, natural fats, etc. is the way to eat. Eating grains and sugar is a sure path to being a nation of obese diabetics.

  13. Eating stale Doritos, washing ’em down with tap water while sucking on the Parliament butts I’ve fished out of the ash tray.

    1. One percenter!

      1. Yes, I am Venezuelan.

        1. Well, obviously you aren’t living there because the Bernie kids and Sean Penn told me it’s utopia and everything is free and plentiful.

          1. This is no place, so utopia is accurate.

  14. While farm subsidies stink, consumers and taxpayers are treated no better by the federal government’s malleable and controversial dietary guidelines.

    No, I’d say they’re treated much better by any program that consists of gov’t just saying stuff than by a subsidy program.

    1. Uh huh. Nobody just “says stuff” for free. Not if they’re a government program. From the taxman through to the producers and others involved in ‘getting the message out’, there’s millions being subsidized.

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    1. I bought themselves a Jaguar E-type

      Yikes

      1. They’ll get Christmas cards from the repair shop!

  16. OT: The storm is here. Looks like it’s be heavy heavy snow instead of rain. I wonder how many trees are gonna get damaged, and how many power lines are going down?
    Anybody stuck at the airport? I know somebody was trying to fly out of DIA today.

    1. It’s mix here. Roads should be fun.

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  18. In other news, Chairman of the House Agricultural Committee confuses the very real Australia with the fantasyland of Oz.

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  23. RE: Runaway Farm Subsidies and Diet Guideline Fights: Federal Food Policy Is a Mess

    We cannot bankrupt the People’s Republic of America unless we have subsidies.
    They are an important cog in the bankrupt machine.
    Then our beloved country will go have an economic disaster ala the old Soviet Union.
    Then we can turn our pleading eyes to all socialists everywhere to further enslave us all.
    Won’t life be wonderful?

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