Today, the New York Times reports that the US Department of Agriculture "will spend $52 million to support local and regional food systems like farmers’ markets and food hubs and to spur research on organic farming."
Uh huh…because, why not! We’re already $17 Trillion (or is that $90 Trillion) in debt. What’s a measly $52 million for yet another food program!
Need a review of those other programs? Let’s see…taxpayers already provide 47 million Americans with food stamps. Taxpayers also fund the Women Infant and Children program, the Elderly Nutrition Program, the Head Start and Summer Food Service Programs, the Indian reservation food assistance program, the Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Child and Adult Care Nutrition Program, and of course, the School Breakfast and Lunch Program. Got all that?
But, according to multiple reports, as spending has increased on these programs, so has the food waste. For example, take the school lunch program: According to a Harvard study, 60 percent of fresh vegetables and 40 percent of fresh fruit are being thrown in the trash. Both GAO and a study by the National School Nutrition Association found an increase food waste due to kids not eating the “new and improved” meals and according to a study from Cornel and Brigham Young Universities, $4 million a day (yes, A DAY!) is being wasted.
So, with all this spending and record breaking waste in mind, why not create a whole new food program designed to help people eat like those sanctimonious food snobs you avoid at school pickup. Hooray!
Not surprisingly, the New York Times – yes, the same newspaper that’s hosting a panel discussion of farming, yet forgot to invite farmers — offers this excuse for the program:
… local farmers still struggle to market their food. Distribution systems are intended to accommodate the needs of large-scale commercial farms and growers. Grocery stores and restaurants largely rely on big distribution centers and are only beginning to figure out how to incorporate small batches of produce into their overall merchandise mixes.
Yes, it’s true, food distribution systems currently in use benefit large-scale farmers but as demand for organic food increases (which it is thanks to alarmists who tell moms that conventionally grown food is dangerous), the distribution systems will be upgraded to deliver organic products in a more efficient manner.
And organic companies have already invested in their own distribution systems to make getting organic products to consumers easier. For instance, by 2011, one of the largest organic companies — Organic Valley – had 43 regional milk pools across the country and employed more than 500 people.
Considering that many organic companies are already designing these distribution centers, perhaps the better solution is for these companies—not taxpayers—to spend a little money in building these logistical systems. After all, organic companies are rolling in it. That’s right—organic’s going BIG FOOD!
Just consider the fact that Whole Foods (hmmm…is it me or do you get the impression that Whole Foods supports the organic industry and organic farmers) makes about the same profits as (gasp) Monsanto (h/t Nurse Loves Farmer). Maybe Whole Foods should start investing in these systems instead of relying on taxpayers like me who don’t even purchase organic food. Or maybe, The Hain Celestial Group, which sells organic products and was ranked one 2014's best food stocks, could help organic farmers with this distribution problem.
The point is, the U.S. government should get out of picking winners (pushing farmers markets, helping develop distribution systems, and pushing organic on consumers) and losers (grocery stores and conventional and large-scale farmers).
Let the market work and let private industry take a load of the American taxpayer.