insurance, critics claim subsidy programs have promoted racial discrimination. The inequity in subsidy programs does not manifest itself in only financial form; a history of discrimination against minorities has plagued government subsidized farming programs for years. Discrimination in farm program delivery has meant many African-American, Hispanic, and Native American farmers have been prevented from benefiting from programs, such as credit and crop insurance, (which has led to) the loss of 97 percent of African-American-owned farms in the past century. According to the National Black Farmers Association, there are “fewer than 20,000 African American farmers left in the United States” (“Black Farmers” 4). Furthermore, a recent investigation by the Environmental Working Group showed that nearly 81,000 of the 94,000 African American farmers that applied for restitution from the landmark civil rights case against the USDA were denied (“Black Farmers” 4). The historic agreement awarded $2.3 billion to African American farmers for decades of unequal treatment when they applied for USDA crop loan programs, but the USDA has instead withheld 3 out of every 4 dollars of this “automatic” compensation (“Black
Sample Paper 22 Farmers” 4). Also, the subsidy inequality affects not only our own country, but the rest of the world also. In September of 2002, the government of Brazil filed a case against the U.S. government’s cotton support programs claiming that the U.S.’s domestic support programs were incompatible with WTO obligations (Mercier and Smith 211). Eventually, the WTO ruled that the U.S. price- related support programs had depressed prices in the world cotton market (Mercier and Smith 212). As George Pyle notes, “the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, and other rich countries provide $350 billion a year in subsidies to their farmers…this is seven times what those same nations spend on aid to poorer nations, and it swamps whatever benefit those needy nations might realize from foreign aid” (49). All of these issues, combined with the inequality of subsidy payment to smaller farms and farmers, help critics paint a picture of injustice in the current and proposed subsidy system of the 2007 farm bill. Issue 2: “health”/”nutrition” The second argument opponents raise is that the proposed legislation of the 2007 farm bill does not improve the overall nutrition of American citizens. They claim the farm bill has a large influence on the common health of all Americans because of how the legislation affects obesity, public school lunch programs, food stamp programs, and general diets. As Michael Pollan points out, the surgeon general has declared obesity an epidemic in America that costs tax payers $90 billion a year in healthcare system costs. Many critics of the farm bill
Sample Paper 23 attribute this to the surplus of food and its lowered prices. As the American Dietic Association points out, “a critical misperception of US agricultural
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- Spring '09