Is the United States Federal Government Subsidizing Healthy Foods for America?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Is the United States Federal Government Subsidizing Healthy Foods for America?
Source: The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of this graph from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, it helps explain more than a thousand words. It helps explain why over 60 million adults are obese in America.

The next time you go shopping and wonder why it’s more expensive to stock up on healthy items vs. junk food, take another look at this chart.  The U.S. Federal government spends less than 1% of its agriculture subsidy budget on fruits and vegetables.  In contrast, Meat and Dairy receive a whopping 63% of the subsidies doled out by Uncle Sam while Grains and Sugar raked in 20% and 15% respectively.  If we are going to get serious about health and nutrition in America, this needs to change.

In last week’s blog, we talked about the USDA’s new dietary icon, MyPlate.  If we are serious about getting Americans to follow MyPlate’s recommendations, subsidies need to shift to make fruits and vegetables more affordable and within reach of all families, regardless of socio-economic status. You can guess who is already dragging their heels — the powerful food lobby. I can hear them kicking and screaming now. But this is a fight worth taking on. The health of our country depends on it!

What do you think of how the subsidy dollars shake out? What unintended consequences have resulted? Furthermore, what needs to be done to help fix our governments incentives for a healthy, safe food supply?

Is the United States Federal Government Subsidizing Healthy Foods for America?

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Pasturedbeef

    While I agree that fruits and vegetables should get more support from uncle Sam, I dont think that it should come at the expense of Meat and Dairy. I would like to see a large chunk taken out of grains, starch, oil and Alcohol ‘s share. Fruit and Vegetables should get half of grain’s share and nut and legumes should get half of Starch, Sugar, oil and alcohol’s share. Actually grains should no longer get subsidized as they are no good for cows or humans.

  2. Srdjan Ostric

    Mr. Bradley, I really have liked your blog, from what I have read about it, but are you aware PCRM is a pro-vegan group/animal rights group? And though they have many, many excellent points, which I agree with, they are the ones trying to promote a vegan utopian as Micheal Pollan has stated in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which is as unsustainable as well as the industrial farming system. Grass fed beef and chickens and the like are more nutritionally dense, safer to eat, and more sustainable than either a Vegan paradise or a Industrial system based on petroleum and corn. I would imagine you agree. This is why this pie chart you offer from the PCRM is a bit deceptive.

  3. Donna Hall

    Dairy farmers do not want “bailouts,handouts,or subsidies”.We want a “fair share “of the consumers’ food dollar! Because of the power of the dairy and food “Industries”,the actual “dairy farmer ” has to try and survive on 25% to 35%today because we are at the bottom ,while the “Industries ” get the rest and charge consumers “whatever the market will bear”! Since farmers are also consumers,we suffer twice! First on the unfair price we receive for our farm’s milk, then again when we go to the grocery store and pay too much ,just like everyone else ! Farmers and consumers need the Bill -S1640 ! Please help!

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