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2014 Farm Bill hurting North Woods families PDF Print E-mail

Dear Editor:

Regarding your article, “Trig’s Stuff-A-Truck food drive,” March 12, it should be noted that Sean Duffy, the 7th Congressional District representative, and his Tea Party collaborators in the House of Representatives, passed the 2014 Farm Bill.

This bill and a previous one cumulatively cut nearly $1 billion per year from the nation’s already inadequate food stamp program. These cuts are hurting a lot of poor, working poor and unemployed in the North Woods.

Unlike food banks (which are clearly well-intended efforts to help the hungry), the food stamp program allows low income participants to regularly purchase fresh, nutritionally rich food such as fresh meat, milk, fruits and vegetables. It’s understandable that food banks can’t afford to properly feed the hungry in a nutritionally sound manner, that’s why the food stamp program was initially enacted.

It is understood that too much processed foods in human diets lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. and are especially debilitating to children.

Duffy should know that it’s truly more cost effective to properly fund our food stamp program than deal with all the otherwise unnecessary healthcare expenses associated with treating good-nutrition deprived victims. The astronomical costs of our nation’s public health care expenses are directly associated with substituting fresh foods with processed ones. So how does Duffy rationalize rewarding the processed food ingredient growers at the expense of small producers of fresh foods?

Duffy wasn’t trying to ease the burden of our nations debt in making food stamp program cuts either. The record is clear, his Farm Bill vote sanctioned continuing $150 million per year subsidy to Brazilian cotton producers along with an estimated $17 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies to wealthy U.S. commodity crop growers. His vote didn’t save taxpayers any money, instead the bill effectively shifted dollars cut from the food stamp program over to mainly subsidize the wealthy. Many experts

believe this Farm Bill will turn out to be more expensive

than the one it just replaced.

The big 2014 Farm Bill winners, again, are the heavily capitalized commodity crop growers, the ones who grow corn, soy and wheat (i.e., the primary ingredients for the nation’s multi-billion dollar processed-foods manufacturing industry). They’re also the big financial contributors for politicians whose constituents, they hope, aren’t paying attention.

Although fresh food prices have gone up by 40% over the past few years, Duffy didn’t fight to increase Farm Bill subsidies to small farmer producers who grow nutritionally essential vegetables, fruits and other healthy fresh foods. Despite the dramatic price increases for fresh foods, small producers receive only 1% of the $20 billion per year in subsidies allocated through the 2014 Farm Bill.

This means that nutritionally-empty processed food will continue to be the most heavily subsidized causing their prices to remain low, while essential fresh food prices will likely continue to go up. (See the 2012 documentary about the root causes of hunger in America, titled “A Place At the Table” and is available through Netflix.)

Lawrence Dale

Eagle River

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 9:44 AM

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