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posted: 6/3/2013 5:00 AM

Stop the subsidies to profitable Big Ag

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Stop the subsidies to profitable Big Ag

This letter is in response to The Associated Press article "Deep divide in Congress over domestic food aid," on May 16. As Congress considers the Farm Bill, average taxpayers and parents of young children should be reminded of how these policies affect them. Our current food policy is deeply flawed, with giant and profitable agribusinesses getting taxpayer handouts that subsidize the production of junk food ingredients. Since 1995, taxpayers have shelled out $277 billion in agricultural subsidies. While defenders of the subsidies claim they're needed to help small farmers, it's the few large operations, less than 4 percent of agribusinesses, which receive three-quarters of that money.

On top of the fact that the profitable agribusinesses getting these handouts -- most notably Cargill and Monsanto -- don't need them, $18 billion has gone to subsidizing common junk food additives like high-fructose corn syrup.

How is it possible that we are wasting tax dollars during a budget crunch and subsidizing junk food during a childhood obesity epidemic? It's simple: Big Ag's lobbyists are fighting hard to keep the gravy train flowing. Last year the Senate ended one wasteful program, but with Big Ag's added pressure, a similar program soon emerged with a different name.

Congress should get it right this time and side with taxpayers, not Big Ag.

Hailey Golds

Field director

Illinois PIRG

Chicago

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