Reading Summary Week 7

Food Fighter

This was an article about the importance of class in the food debate. Tom Philpott, a columnist, is one of the only American journalists to confront the class issues in the US food system. He quit his job as a journalist and opened Maverick Farm, an educational nonprofit farm that promotes sustainable agriculture and family farming as a community resource. The article was an interview where he discussed the problems at hand. He spoke about the broken food system, and how the food industry is a massive business and is one of the biggest employers for people in the country. Food system employees are some of the lowest paid and are forced to eat the cheapest foods. Wages have not been adjusted for inflation, making it very difficult for these people to make ends meet. Also, the USDA encourages farmers to grow as much crops as possible to drive the price of food up. This promotes the use of pesticides and GMOs. He also spoke about economics and how economists don’t pay much attention to the food industry and vice versa. For economists, the food industry is not a concern and for the food industry, economics isn’t a concern. The price of organic and healthy food is extremely high and makes it difficult for most people to eat, while processed food is cheap and easily accessible. It is much easier for families of lower income to buy fast food than ingredients to make a healthy meal. However, Philpott points out that everyone has the personal choice of eating healthy and cheap. Healthy choices can be made more available to all by small projects that can serve as models for policies. Examples of these projects include Growing Power in Milwaukee, which promotes growing food in small places, the French Intensive  style of farming. By farming in small places in urban cities (such as rooftops, ect.) there would be more availability to healthier foods. There is great importance of having incentives for food policies, such that water and electricity have. Incentives for small projects such as urban agriculture would cause more people to start this type of farming. Discussing politics, he said that the ideas were good, but mot executed very well. For school lunches, Obama asked for $1 billion, which would only increase the average school lunches by $0.20. However, the $1 billion was cut in half. It is hard to make such a change with an increase of $0.10 a lunch. What needs to be done to solve these problems? Not simply a cut in farm subsidies, but to invest in infrastructure and create incentives for farmers.

Farm Subsidy

In theory, subsidies provided by the government are meant to help agricultural producers manage the variations in agricultural production and profitability from year to year. However, there are problems with the program. The subsidies tend to target 5 areas of crops; corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice. The subsidies help mostly large and finally secure farms. So what happened to the small farmers?

  • Programs
    • Direct Payments
    • Counter-Cyclical
    • Payments Marketing Loans
    • Disaster Payments
    • Conservation Reserve Program

Farm Subsidy Facts

Farms in the United States received $7 billion in farm subsidies from 1995-2014. 62% of farms in the US did not collect any subsidy payments.


Texas ranked  1/50 in the US for farm subsidies, collecting $30.08 billion from 1995-2014. 81 percent of farms in Texas did not collect subsidy payments

Rhode Island

Rhode Island ranked 50/50, receiving only $19.4 million from 1995-2014. 92 percent of farms in Rhode Island did not collect subsidy payments.


Florida ranked: 28/50 collecting $3.01 billion from 1995-2014. 90 percent of farms in Florida did not collect subsidy payments

The Top Subsidity Programs:

  1. Corn
  2. Wheat
  3. Cotton




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