Monthly Archives: January 2009

Perverted, and not sexy: farm subsidies

just say no to subsidies

just say no to subsidies

Here’s a good little video short on the audacity of farm subsidies. What are they? Why do we still have them? Why can’t we get rid of these things? They cost taxpayers Billion$, distort the market, help producers (land owners) who don’t really need help, and have out-lived their usefulness by several decades.

The site also has a good list of addition links to other resources on the issue. Tell Big Ag to grow up and take care of itself. Support your LOCAL farmer.

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Filed under agriculture, policy

Food shortages in 2009?

got hunger?

got hunger?

My brother sent this and asked if there was anything to it. Is the prospect of food shortages in the US real enough and will they be serious enough that people should start to presserve and store large amounts of food? After gazing in my crystal ball for some time I finally realized there was nothing there except…well…crystal.

The scary video at the top of the “Food Shortage” link does site some things that are true — food riots in other countries, food prices going up, — but it’s interesting they don’t site any sources for the info or any hard numbers. By how much have food prices risen? By how much have food supplies fallen? And what is the evidence that the US food distribution is “showing signs of weakness?” What does that mean, anyway? The video does not say. The copy below the video is simularly vague.

It is true that global reserves of coarse grains have been dwindling. An April 2008 report from Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute (World Facing Huge New Challange on Food Front) presents some strong evidence that grain supplies are falling behind demand. He blames loss of farmland, insufficient expansion of irrigation capacity, aging technology, and such. Farmers are having a harder time keeping up with the ever growing demand for more food from a ever growing human population. Thus the rising prices and unrest in poorer countries. Brown sites the same food riots and unrest as a sign of things to come as food security is further eroded. Brown’s report does not mention anything about how the US might be impacted. His April report also came out before the 2008 harvest which broke records and seems to have relieved the situation, for now.

So, could the US be faced with real food shortages? For most of us it is hard to imagine, but it’s possible. Anything is possible. We live in a global food system. That means lots of the food we raise is shipped to other places around the globe, and much of the food we consume is shipped here from somewhere else. We are blessed in this country with good soils, lots of water and moderate climates. We can raise lots of food. Many of us could keep from starving just from what we can grow in our own back yards. Granted, we won’t be getting fat, but we could keep from starving. If an emergency level of shortage hits, I believe we could redirect our production capacity fairly quickly and feed everyone here. It would mean big changes, but it could be done.

Should you start storing your own “survival food?” If you are worried about it, go ahead. Do it now while you can still buy surpluses fairly cheaply. If everyone panics and tries to do it all at once the shelves will go bare pretty quickly. In addition to preserving and storing food, I also recommend people start a garden. It’s not as easy as it looks. You’ll need some experience before you actually see surplus amounts of anything other than zuchinni. It’s a good skill to have whether you’re facing dire times or not. And it will give you a means to replenish your stores year to year, if necessary.


Filed under agriculture, food, local food, policy