The always-worthwhile Ethicurean has a lot of good links to analysis and commentary about the Food and Farm Bill which recently passed the House. I found the UK Guardian’s analysis particularly compelling.
today’s agricultural programs give large commodity subsidies to less than one-third of American farmers, most of them large-scale producers who grow a limited number of crops. Such massive commodity subsidies actually fuel the consolidation of land, since family farms are forced to compete with subsidised big producers. Smaller farmers – especially those that have historically faced discrimination – face even bigger challenges in trying to make a living from the land….
By encouraging overproduction of certain crops, such as rice and cotton, commodity subsidies create a glut that drives down world prices, undermining the livelihoods of farmers and depriving developing countries of their rightful earnings and market share. Simply put, family farmers all over the world are working hard to make a decent living, but they are thwarted by the policies of governments halfway around the world.
Ag policy seems to tie in to so many other policy areas which make frequent appearances on the political stump: public health, nutrition, and care, rural domestic poverty, poverty overseas, energy. Has anybody compared the major presidential candidates’ agricultural policies?
The Fairtrade project will initially focus on tracking a selection of Fair Trade goods imported into the UK by following their trail back to source, evaluating the value of Fair Trade to both producing and importing entities, assessing the existing legal framework and examining to what extent Fair Trade succeeds in strengthening the capabilities of disadvantaged groups at each change of ownership. A subsequent study is planned extending to products imported into other consuming countries.
I will be following this.