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You Are What You Eat…. The Impact of Private Industry and Government in the Nation’s Food Supply and Health. Homework: Form & communicate an opinion. Form & Communicate an Opinion . Consider how information in the unit has affected your opinions about agricultural subsidies in general.

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you are what you eat

You Are What You Eat…

The Impact of Private Industry and Government in the Nation’s Food Supply and Health

form communicate an opinion
Form & Communicate an Opinion
  • Consider how information in the unit has affected your opinions about agricultural subsidies in general.
    • Write a script for a television or Web-based advocacy ad that communicates that opinion and calls for action. The script must include the following:
      • Background information that helps support their opinion
      • A clear statement of opinion
      • Persuasive language
      • A call to action

Commodities: goods (often agricultural products, and natural resources) for which little or no processing is involved, so there isn't a great deal of difference in the quality of the goods

  • Determinants of Supply/Demand: factors other than price that affect the supply (or demand) of a product or service; factors might be change in the number of producers or change in consumer preferences or consumer spending power
  • Fiscal Policy: government spending and taxing policies designed to create desired effects on the economy
  • Incentive: a reward or benefit that motivates people to do something
  • Scarcity: the condition that results from demand being greater than supply
  • Subsidy: financial assistance (usually provided by the government) to targeted industries, companies, and individuals
  • Surplus: the condition that results when supply is greater than demand
  • Tariff: a tax on an imported good or service
possible influences
Possible Influences
  • Price
  • Convenience
  • What types of food are readily available
  • Taste preferences
  • Nutritional content
  • Habits
  • Cultural influences
ask yourself
Ask Yourself
  • Which foods are the most/least expensive today?
  • Which are made with ingredients subsidized by the government?
  • How does this information relate to what the Gonzalez family describes in the video?
what do we see from this graph
What do we see from this graph?
  • It’s a fairly striking pattern.
    • Unhealthful foods, with the exceptions of cookies (the blue line), have gotten a lot cheaper.
    • Relative to the price of everything else in the economy, sodas (the orange line) are 33 percent cheaper than they were in 1978.
    • Butter (dark brown) is 29 percent cheaper.
    • Beer (gray) is 15 percent cheaper.
    • Fish (the yellow line), by contrast, is 2 percent more expensive.
    • Vegetables (purple) are 41 percent more expensive.
    • Fruits (green) are 46 percent more expensive.
what do we see from this graph1
What do we see from this graph?
  • The price of oranges, to take one extreme example (not shown in the chart), has more than doubled, relative to everything else. So if in 1978, a bag of oranges cost the same as one big bottle of soda, today that bag costs the same as three big bottles of soda.
agricultural subsidy
Agricultural Subsidy

An agricultural subsidy is a support payment that the federal government makes to farmers and large agribusiness companies

agricultural subsidy1
Agricultural Subsidy

Payments began during the Great Depression

The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933

  • Amid the drastically falling price of crops, Congress – with the back of President Franklin Roosevelt – passed legislation that paid small farmers to take cropland out of rotation  decreased supply of selected crops  increased their value.
  • Today, payments continue for growers of certain commodities:
    • Wheat
    • Corn
    • Rice
    • Soybeans
    • Cotton
    • Sugar

The government also guarantees a basic price for these crops.

    • If the market price falls below a guaranteed “price floor,” the government makes up the difference.
reauthorizing the farm bill
Reauthorizing the Farm Bill
  • As part of the Farm Bill that is typically reauthorized every 5 years, the subsidies and price guarantees are intended to:
    • Mitigate the effects of a disaster
    • Manage the supply of food
mitigate the effects of disaster
Mitigate the Effects of Disaster

Crop yields -- and farm revenues -- fluctuate based on weather conditions and the spread of certain plant diseases.

Proponents say that price supports and other subsidies help smooth out any losses farms may experience during lean (less productive) years.

managing the food supply
Managing the Food Supply

By guaranteeing prices and managing how much of each crop is grown (or not grown), the government ensures a steady domestic supply of basic commodities for its citizens.

Proponents say this protects the United States against fluctuations and interruptions in the global food supply.


critics point to the following issues
Critics point to the following issues:
  • American agriculture has changed.
  • Subsidies can stifle competition.
  • Producers and consumers feel the pinch.
  • Subsidies drive production decisions.
american agriculture has changed
American agriculture has changed.
  • In 1933, 6 million small farms were home to about 25 percent of the population.
  • Today, large corporate farms account for most crop production.
    • Only 2 percent of the population lives on a farm.
  • Rather than helping small farmers, the subsidies provide income to large businesses that have the collective power to lobby Congress and make campaign contributions.
subsidies can stifle competition
Subsidies can stifle competition
  • Critics argue that the practice promotes poverty in nations that grow important commodities but are unable to compete on price because of the subsidy.
    • For example, sugar is grown in some of the world's poorest countries. They would benefit from exporting it to the United States. But the combination of a government subsidy for U.S. sugar growers and a tariff -- or fee -- on foreign sugar does not make that economically feasible.
producers and consumers feel the pinch
Producers and consumers feel the pinch.
  • Subsidies can often have the effect of inflating the value of a crop.
    • Using sugar as an example, Americans pay at least twice as much for sugar than people in other countries do.
    • And companies that depend on sugar -- such as candy manufacturers -- struggle to start or maintain their businesses in the United States.
subsidies drive production decisions
Subsidies drive production decisions.
  • Currently, subsidies are available to producers of about a dozen commodities.
    • This has the effect of encouraging the production -- or the non-production -- of some crops that no longer have the same demand, such as tobacco.
  • Subsidies are not available for what critics say are crops that would better benefit American health, such as certain fruits and vegetables.
Nevertheless, the payments continue. In the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress authorized billions of dollars in crop subsidies.
case study 10 minutes
Case Study (10 minutes)
  • In groups:
    • Read & discuss the case study
    • Answer the questions
case study a briefing
Case Study: A “briefing”
  • Share your knowledge of:
    • the current system of sugar subsidies;
    • how it protects U.S. sugar growers;
    • how it affects food manufacturers; and
    • how it affects the competitive playing field that helps keep consumer prices in check.
food for thought
Food for Thought
  • Other countries (e.g., Mexico) use sugar as the sweetener.
    • Is there a connection between domestic sugar subsidies and the relatively recent use of high-fructose corn syrup in soft drinks/foods?