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Uber-conservative Lashes Out Against Farm Subsidies

Thursday, August 3, 2006

In an L.A. Times editorial, conservative-supreme Jonah Goldberg states his case against farm subsidies. Why? He says subsidies foster dependence in the developing world:

[...]Our farm subsidies alone — forget trade barriers — cost developing countries $24 billion every year, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis. Letting poor nations prosper would be worth a lot more than the equivalent amount in foreign aid. But Big Agriculture likes foreign aid because it allows for the dumping of wheat and other crops on the world market, which perpetuates the cycle of dependency.

And, he says, subsidies contribute to unnecessary pollution here at home:

[...]There's a 6,000-square-mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, larger than Connecticut. It's so depleted of oxygen because of algae blooms caused by fertilizer runoff that shrimp and crabs at the Louisiana shore literally try to leap from the water to breathe. This is endangering the profitable Gulf fishing industry. Most of the fertilizer comes from a few Midwestern counties that receive billions in subsidies (more than $30 billion from 1997 to 2002, according to the Environmental Working Group).

In fact, each year, an average of $270 million worth of wasted fertilizer flows down the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.

Some additional jaw-droppers from the EWG analysis include:

  • Farmlands in 15 percent of the Mississippi River Basin send 80 percent of the critical spring surge of fertilizer pollution into the Gulf.
  • Farms in 124 counties that make up 5 percent of the Basin send 40 percent of the spring fertilizer pollution load to the Gulf.
  • In those top polluting 124 counties, taxpayers spent 500 times more money on crop subsidies than on conservation programs.
  • In the top fertilizer-polluting states of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, 11,000 farmers were denied conservation payments in 2004 because the programs had no money.
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