Monday, May 02, 2005

Chicago Tribune's Andrew Martin on USDA subsidies

The Chicago Tribune's headline today is, "USDA's subsidies ignore its own dietary advice." Andrew Martin explains how the new Dietary Guidelines encourage more fruits and vegetables, while farm subsidy programs favor soybeans and grain crops used in oils, animal feeds, and sweeteners. He writes:
That disparity points out an awkward truth about the USDA: what it urges people to eat to remain healthy does not match what it pays farmers to grow.

In fact, fruit and vegetable farmers receive no subsidies from the government, though fruits and vegetables should make up the largest share of Americans' diets, according to the new pyramid.

"We're pleased that they continue to say that fruits and vegetables in general are important," said Robert Guenther, vice president of public policy for the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, who would like federal help with marketing produce rather than subsidies for growing it. "But what we're saying to [the Agriculture Department] and others in Congress is you can't just issue these reports and this new pyramid and walk away. You need to get behind it."

Nutrition rarely, if ever, has entered the debate in Congress over the merits of farm subsidies, authorities say. Rather, inertia, farm-state politics and changing trends in foreign trade generally dictate how much is allocated to different commodities.
Martin also raises -- and quotes me about -- the contrast between the message of the Dietary Guidelines and the message of the USDA-sponsored commodity promotion or "checkoff" programs ("Beef. It's What's for Dinner" and so forth).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

every Dietary Guideline should encourage more fruits and vegetables. Lower blood pressure; reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and probably some cancers; lower risk of eye and digestive problems; and a mellowing effect on blood sugar that can help keep appetite in check. We Should Have 5 to 9 pieces Of Fruit A Day not only because its healthy the body knows how to process natural sugars, and a few fruits are even a negative calorie food.
This is VERY important if you wish to keep your diet in check

Great post!