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Meghan Hess,
PIRGIM

Cuts to Spending Recommended by Agriculture Committees Should Target Wasteful Subsidies for Junk Food

Statement of PIRGIM Program Associate Meghan Hess on the bipartisan recommendations put forth by the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture to cut $23 billion in agricultural spending
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON – “Cuts to agricultural subsidies should target the most egregious giveaways to agribusiness giants. The Super Committee should first eliminate the Direct Payments program, which wastes taxpayer money in a budget crunch and subsidizes junk food additives in the face of an obesity epidemic. 

“It is about time that our elected leaders say no to a powerful lobby that spent $200 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in 2008 alone to push for corporate handouts. Seventy-four percent of agricultural subsidies go to just four percent of agribusinesses. We shouldn’t be handing cash to Cargill and Monsanto in the best of times, but during a budget crunch it is simply unacceptable.

“Taxpayers should also stop paying the insurance bills for big agribusiness that cost billions every year. Direct Payments should not be replaced with more handouts under the guise of poorly-designed crop insurance programs.

“Since 1995, nearly $17 billion has gone to subsidize unhealthy junk food ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, enough for American taxpayers to buy 19 Twinkies each according to PIRGIM’s recent report, Apples to Twinkies. With one in five kids obese, the last thing tax dollars should support is more Twinkies.

“With the Super Committee looking for budget cuts that can garner widespread public support, this is just the tip of the iceberg. PIRGIM recently partnered with the National Taxpayers Union, an unlikely ally from the other end of the political spectrum, to find over a trillion dollars worth of special interests handouts, unnecessary subsidies, and blatant government inefficiencies. 

“Years of insider lobbying has allowed this wasteful spending to continue for too long. The Super Committee should start here, where there is common ground.”

Click here for a copy of the PIRGIM-NTU joint Super Committee Recommendations

Click here for a copy of Apples to Twinkies

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PIRGIM (the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan) is a nonprofit, non-partisan consumer advocacy organization. www.pirgim.org

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