Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why we should care about the Farm Bill and Ag policy

The Rocky Mountain News points us to the latest on poverty and obesity,

Colorado's low-income children are three times more likely to be obese than the kids of well-heeled parents, a new study shows.

It's the starkest indicator so far of the link between obesity and low income and low education.

It's true as many right-wingers accuse, America has the world's fattest poor people. But why are they over-weight? It's not the quantity of food that they eat, it's the quality of the food that they have access to. The Rocky continues,

About a quarter of the Colorado kids living in households that earn less than $25,000 a year are obese, compared to just 8 percent of those living in households with $75,000 or more in income...

Fresh fruit and other nutritious foods are expensive. Grapes, at $3.99 a pound, are an extravagance to low-income parents who can feed the entire family for about $5 on the McDonald's dollar menu.

I blogged a bit about the Farm Bill last May as it was winding through Congress. The Farm Bill grossly distorts our food markets at home and abroad. Here's a graph that really lays out the effect that our agriculture policy has on food prices,

It's a complicated issue politically and one that I have little confidence that Obama will attack given Illinois' large corn farming industry. There have also been hints that former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack is poised to become the Secretary of Agriculture, another sign that an Obama administration would stick close to the status quo in ag policy. This is an issue where the Congress is going to have to lead.

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