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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 08:22 PM

7. Bet the Farm: Six Questions for Frederick Kaufman By Jeffery Gleaves

 

http://harpers.org/blog/2012/10/bet-the-farm-six-questions-for-frederick-kaufman/

There is enough food grown in the world to feed its entire population, yet approximately 1 billion people go hungry every year. With this in mind, food journalist and Harper’s Magazine contributing editor Frederick Kaufman went searching for the variables that make a slice of pizza cost so little. Demystifying the complex system of wheat futures, he traveled to farms, labs, manufacturing facilities, and Wall Street, where he uncovered who cornered the wheat market in 2008 and created the food bubble. I hungrily asked him six questions about his new book, Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food....


...Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget proposal recommends cuts to major welfare programs like food stamps and unemployment. He claims that the war on poverty should fix the causes, not the symptoms. At the same time, he would cut federal farm support by 300 million over ten years and reform the “open-ended nature of government support for crop insurance.” What might severe cuts in these areas mean for American society? What risks could this run, historically speaking?

The history of hunger shows that the cause of starvation is not lack of food. People starve because they cannot afford food. Food stamps are a very effective way of stopping hunger, as is unemployment insurance and social security. More Americans than ever are relying on food stamps. So who is Paul Ryan kidding? What kind of effect does he foresee when 17 million American households experience food insecurity? A middle-class mom or dad is not, by nature, a revolutionary. But $20 a pound hamburger and $10 a quart milk will make them so. Everyone in the military and the CIA knows that the best way to foment unrest in a country is to increase food inflation and food insecurity. And since 2008, we have seen more than sixty food riots across the world, and more than one regime change. Would Paul Ryan like to lead the charge?

When it comes to crop insurance and other supports, we have to separate the farmer from agribusiness. One reason agribusiness has not been vertically integrated is that industrialists do not want to bother with the risk of putting seeds in the ground and praying for rain. And while farming may be for gamblers, national security rests on a steady and reliable food supply. Historically, American has understood the need to support farmers. The country has enjoyed years of prosperous harvests of inexpensive wheat because of federal dollars spent on agricultural education and outreach. Washington is right to support those in a high-risk business essential to our national security and international trade. History has shown that when farmers go belly-up, the effects reverberate throughout society. The last thing we want in these days of drought, flood, and climate change is for this country to become dependent on Argentina, Brazil, and Russia for our daily bread. The import costs will dwarf Ryan’s paltry $300 million...

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LineReply Bet the Farm: Six Questions for Frederick Kaufman By Jeffery Gleaves
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