Federal Government is a Cash Cow for Animal Agribusiness

Written by Cheryl Leahy

cash-cow

Are you aware of just how strong the arm of animal agribusiness’ influence is on the federal government? And just how many taxpayer dollars it grabs? Be prepared to let your jaw drop.

There seem to be federal government purchases and subsidies everywhere we look. A couple months ago, the USDA announced its intention to purchase $40 million worth of chicken because the chicken industry’s profits are flagging. Last year, we heard about the USDA program which put $12 million just into the marketing of Domino’s cheese. And a recently released milk documentary discusses USDA’s role in the ubiquity of dairy products in the U.S. and the programs that foist dairy onto the poor, the sick, the elderly, and children.

In addition, federal subsidies of animal agriculture are an entrenched part of the system, and amount to billions per year. Just the chicken industry alone receives $100 million (not including this recent $40 million). PCRM has a great graph showing the federal subsidy structure, which is dominated by animal products and grain. Remember, most grain in the U.S. is fed to animals who are later killed for meat, milk, and eggs. The subsidy graph looks drastically different from even the notoriously animal-ag beholden USDA’s “My Plate” nutrition recommendation, which urges people to get most of their food from plant-based sources for nutritional reasons.

The Farm Bill, which largely enables these programs, is set to be redrafted next year, but much of the maneuvering is taking place now, and may be done behind closed doors as part of a “secret farm bill” that stands to line the pockets of the biggest of the big in factory farming.

Our work at Compassion Over Killing is fundamentally aimed at reducing the demand for meat, milk, and eggs, a strategy rationally chosen in order to reduce the supply of animal products in order to alleviate suffering. This basic economic system is warped and our efforts undermined by a few powerful people committed to the continued exploitation of animals, as well as the environment and human health. Where people speak with their personal choices not to eat meat, milk, or eggs, and per capita consumption decreases as a result, the federal goverment’s intervention creates market failures, artificially expanding the supply and further distorting the true cost of this exploitation. In addition to our personal commitments to leave meat, milk, and eggs out of our shopping carts, it is important that we understand and oppose the institutional systems contributing to the exploitation and deaths of tens of billions of animals.

You can make your opposition to this corrupt system known by writing your federal representatives and senators, asking them not to continue to subsidize animal agriculture and to prevent the “secret farm bill” process. You could even suggest congresspeople start by eliminating the subsidies they themselves receive. At the very least, if we are going to have subsidies, they should be to support healthful, cruelty-free, and environmentally sustainable plant-based foods. If our federal government is going to distort the free market with handouts and bailouts, it should at least be to promote health and ethics.