When Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill this year, it should replace existing policies that subsidize junk food and encourage harmful farming practices with policies that prioritize healthy foods and farms, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
U.S. agricultural policies are aimed, in large part, at providing assistance for corn and soybean crops, offering large subsidies for the key ingredients in processed foods. In addition to giving an unfair advantage to unhealthy foods—making them cheaper—it incentivizes farming methods that release millions of tons of toxic chemicals into our air, water and soil.
According to a UCS policy brief, Toward Healthy Food and Farms, forward-thinking agriculture policies focused on local foods, conservation and research, can transform the current food system into one that prioritizes nutritious foods and sustainable farming practices. The brief comes in advance of a Senate Agriculture Committee on local foods and nutrition.
“The Farm Bill presents an excellent opportunity to change the agricultural status quo in this country. This window of opportunity only comes up every five years, and it’s imperative that we get these policies right while we have the chance,” said Justin Tatham, Washington representative for UCS’s Food and Environment Program. “Now is the time to stop subsidizing junk food and start rewarding farmers growing healthy foods using practices that protect the environment.”
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