The United States federal government paid American farmers $12.3 billion in 2009 to boost crop production. While this number may seem high, it is actually nearly the lowest amount paid to farmers in the past 10 years.
The reason farmers are paid to grow certain crops is to ensure that they grow more for the country, while at the same time making the same amount of money. What some people aren’t completely aware of is the huge impact that the subsidies have on what ends up on our plate – in plain sight or otherwise.
Corn alone took in a whopping $77.1 billion from the government between 1995 and 2010.
The U.S. government continues to be a major player in the national food business, with subsidies continuing to grow. Here are the top 9 food products that the government most heavily subsidizes:
Corn easily rests at the top of the list of government sponsored foods. Between 1995 and 2010, $77.1 billion was given to farmers so that they could grow massive amounts of corn. But oddly enough, most of the corn grown isn’t corn on the cob. The corn produced is actually specifically created for purposes of adding certain ingredients in the food. One such ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, which has been found to contain mercury and cause cancer, and resides in many products such as ketchup, cereals, and beverages. It has nearly replaced sugar in all sodas and soft drinks. Then there is corn starch, corn gluten meal, hydrolyzed corn protein, and corn syrup which can all be found in snacks like cookies. Lastly, corn is used to feed conventionally fed animals to prompt weight gain and hasten their slaughter weight. Unfortunately, these animals’ digestive systems are not meant to digest corn, causing the animals to be fed antibiotics.
What’s frightening is that most of the corn that is produced isn’t even edible! The commodity, corn, is produced with government backing for one primary reason – to be processed. The corn is simply a raw material meant to be transformed into the harmful ingredients we’ve come to consume so often today.
The argument for so much subsidization is to help the US compete internationally, but most of the corn being processed is used domestically. What the government is really subsidizing, is obesity and tons of other health complications within the nation. The truth is that many of the products we buy possesses some type of processed corn. Corn is even consumed when eating meat, as the animals are force-fed genetically modified corn. All of the subsidizing set in place by the system is ultimately contributing to the downfall of our food quality as we know it. It does of course make costs cheaper for businesses.
The total subsidies for wheat between 1995 and 2010 was $32.4 billion – the second most subsidized crop. Both wheat demand and prices have skyrocketed in recent years. While wheat always used to be plentiful, wheat stockpiles have fallen to a new low in 2008 which haven’t been seen since 1948. Even with farmers experiencing a wheat shortage due to high demand, subsidies continue. It seems to be much easier to add subsidies than to remove them due to Congress' decision-making processes.
Soybeans, like corn, are also almost always genetically modified. It wasn’t until the last couple decades that the U.S. had such a large role in soy production. Today, the U.S. produces at least 75% of all soybeans grown worldwide, with an increase of about 10 million acres produced between 2007 and 2011. Total subsidies for soybeans between 1995 and 2010 totaled $24.3 billion, making it 3rd on the list of top products subsidized.
Other foods the United States government is paying for you to eat: