04/21/2010: Reuters reports that the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee , Minnesota Representative Collin Peterson, believes that major changes should be made in the next farm bill in 2012, which determines how crops are subsidized by the federal government (http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2010/04/21/peterson-eyeing-major-overhaul-of-crop-subsidies/).
In response to the first hearing on the overhaul, people have begun to examine more closely the shortcomings of the current farm bill and explore possibilities for the new bill. For example, Daniel Imhoff, author of Food Flight, was quoted today in the Huffington Post, as saying "We must put an end to commodity subsidy programs that simply encourage overproduction and insurance of cheap ingredients for industrial foods...What we subsidize should contribute to an all around healthier food system" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paula-crossfield/a-new-vision-for-the- 2012_b_549257.html).
I can't help but think of the current policy of the federal government to subsidize corn (corn is the highest subsidized crop, by far). A great study came out this month from Tufts that links these subsidies to the obesity epidemic: "While [subsidies] may not have caused the obesity epidemic by making corn cheap, U.S. agricultural policies raised the price of sugar and decreased the price of corn. Together, this drove the price of corn below its production costs, shied the sweetener industry over to HFCS, made HFCS artificially cheap, and served as an implicit subsidy to those using HFCS in large quantities, notably so drink makers." ( http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/rp/PB09-01SweeteningPotFeb09.pdfhttp://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/rp/TWG20ResurgenceMar10.pdf)