Pam Gulleson: We Need More Government Programs To Solve Obesity
Pam Gulleson, who fancies herself the “only working farmer running for Congress in North Dakota” (I’d like to know the last time she was in the field for anything other than a photo op), says that we can’t blame farm subsidies for obesity. Instead, we need more government programs to promote a government-approved lifestyle.
I come to this debate as both a farmer and a nutritionist. I know how important the farm program is to our farmers and ranchers. Yet, as a nutritionist, I also know the importance of a balanced, healthy diet and exercise. Despite all the rhetoric, there is virtually no solid research to bolster claims that the farm program causes obesity.
In fact, the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis and the Department of Economics from Iowa State recently examined the links between farm program incentives and obesity. Their finding: “Compared with other factors, the policy induced-influenced differences in relative prices among farm commodities have played only a tiny role in determining excess food consumption and obesity in the United States. Eliminating farm subsidy programs … could not even make a dent in America’s obesity problem.”
It’s time to get serious about the real causes of obesity. The real focus should be on stronger education about food choices, more exercise, and better research. It’s absurd to blame family farmers for the sedentary, fast-food culture of our nation. Platitudes and strawmen arguments don’t make for good policy.
It’s laughable to think that a “cheap food” policy in a country where most people are overweight might be a problem. But it’s not just cheap food. It’s subsidies for corn production, specifically, which distorts the food markets by luring food producers into using corn syrup and other corn-based ingredients which, for the most part, aren’t as healthy as the ingredients they replace such as regular sugar.
I understand that Gulleson really, really wants to pander to farm voters by promising to keep the farm subsidy gravy train rolling, but let’s not pretend that those subsidies don’t distort the food markets.
There’s this assumption that if we don’t subsidize farmers, we won’t have food. This is ridiculous. We’d have a freer market, and healthier food, without farm subsidies.Tags: nanny statism, North Dakota News, pam gulleson