THE FARM BILL
You don’t have to move to Iowa and grow an acre of corn to see the Farm Bill’s effect on the American food system. Just take a stroll through the supermarket or see what’s cooking at the drive-through. As King Corn shows, America’s ability to produce bumper corn crops has fueled a food system awash in high fructose corn syrup and fatty, corn-fed beef. But the film also shows one of the reasons farmers grow so much corn: subsidies from the US government.
Every five to seven years, Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill, a complex and powerful piece of legislation that makes an impact on our food system in a wide variety of ways: environmentally, commercially, agriculturally, and economically. Originally developed by Depression-era Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace, the farm bill has grown to include a range of considerations, from commodity farming and rural development to the school lunch program and biofuel supports. But is the Farm Bill creating the rural communities and food culture we want?
- In the last 15 years, taxpayers paid corn farmers more than $77 billion
- 10% of America’s farmers collect more than 75% of the subsidies
- Since the late 1970s, the real price of fruits and vegetables increased by 30%, while prices for soft drinks decreased by 34%