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The 2012 Farm Bill and Agricultural Subsidies: Corporate Welfare for Farmers

This video from ReasonTV covers ground we’ve covered before many times, but since little to nothing has changed on this front, we must necessarily persevere in getting the message across any way we can. Essentially, we need to stop incentivising ecological madness, waste, disease, and inequality through public subsidising of the largest agricultural criminals.

Current agricultural subsidies in the U.S. mean that agribusinesses are selling ‘food’ (in inverted commas, as much of it is genetically modified and nutrient deficient) at less than the cost of production. This is damaging to the environment, to U.S. small-scale farmers, the U.S. economy as a whole, and it is particularly hard on struggling small-scale farmers in two-thirds world countries, who watch ‘cheap’ food getting dumped on their doorsteps at prices they cannot compete with and which often see them leaving their land to take up residence in ever-growing city slums, as I outlined in detail in Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis.

The very things we need today — a resurgence in small-scale biodiverse farms, working to supply relocalised markets with healthy food — are exactly what these subsidies directly and powerfully undermine. We are essentially shooting ourselves in the foot.

In short, if we don’t change these policies, dear reader, the efforts of permaculturists and small scale farmers worldwide will always be seriously hampered, and run roughshod over.

One of the biggest obstacles to change also happens to, potentially, be one of the biggest solutions. This is the U.S. ‘Farm Bill’, which is redrawn every five years. The current Farm Bill, finalised in 2008 (delayed from its initial expiration date of 2007), was a tremendous disappointment for the world and its struggling people, whilst being a predictable victory for the largest, richest, most ecologically inept bio-raping organisations — like Monsanto, ADM, Cargill, etc. — who used their money-lined lobbying power to get exactly what they wanted. Now, in 2012, The Farm Bill is up for renewal, and, at time of writing, despite being arguably the most important bill the U.S. senate has to discuss, with very tangible worldwide consequences that could be either significantly detrimental, or significantly constructive, it seems they are too busy to even look at it.

If current levels of political and public apathy continues, these industries will just "kick the can down the road" — preserving the Farm Bill in its current, disastrous form for another five years….

A sensibly reworked Farm Bill is exactly what is needed to bring about the ‘get small, or get out’ policies I regularly mention that could incentivise the undoing of the massively unsustainable and inequitable system Big Agri has bequeathed us with, whilst simultaneously ensuring a staged transition to ensure people don’t go hungry as large land-holdings are broken up and people begin to reskill in ecological methods.

TEDxManhattan – Ken Cook – Turning the Farm Bill into the Food Bill

Your Food, Your Water, Your Money: Why The 2012 Farm Bill Matters


  1. Hi Craig,

    I worry about the fact that only 1% to 2% of the population in Industrial countries are involved in agriculture. Historically this has not been the case and the current situation is unprecedented. Permaculture has a lot to offer in both good design and hands on experience.

    Agricultural subsidies will be sorted out over time because as major economies engage in quantitative easing they devalue their currencies from an international perspective. I’m aware that it is or has been going on in the UK, US, Japan and Europe for quite some time now. As Bob Marley said, “you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”.

    Smallholders will be the way of the future eventually, I reckon.



  2. This is the problem with big government. It is not just in agriculture, when big government beaurocrats think they not what is best and when we give them full reign to wreak their “solutions” on us they will end up doing more harm then good. Its funny that the people who are against regulation in one market, say finance, are supporting this one, or that the people who oppose regulations of this farm bill support it in finance. They are one in the same, big government only caters to big business by creating regulations and market environments that cater to the only people who can afford lobbyists and who enter the revolving door of beaurocracy to set these policies: big business.

  3. For a very clear picture of how big industrial ag and pharma have taken control of food regulation, take a look at Farmageddon.

    Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasonably burdensome regulations. The film serves to put policymakers and regulators on notice that there is a growing movement of people aware that their freedom to choose the foods they want is in danger, a movement that is taking action with its dollars and its voting power to protect and preserve the dwindling number of family farms that are struggling to survive.

  4. These are amazing videos, I have been meaning to find the time to really understand this US bill for a while now and it is like so much legislation in my country just hidden from the public, glossed over in the media, and not well understood. Thanks for putting this post together!!

    As an aside I am more worried about how big our corporations are getting (bigger than government) than I am about the size of government. Corporations make way more decisions for how we live our lives than government does.

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