Agricultural Economist Has Growing Concerns

The insanity of farm subsidies just one facet of wide-ranging Q&A with Daniel Sumner
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2008 1:45 PM CDT
Evan Webb, left, and Erik Yablou harvest organic potatoes on July 23, 2008, at Piedmont Biofarm in Pittsboro, NC   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Is there any way to justify US farm subsidies? Agricultural economist Daniel Sumner has a blunt answer: “No.” In an in-depth interview with the New York Times, Sumner takes on a broad range of agricultural topics, explaining the trouble with organic food (it’s too expensive), the problems with local food (it’s often inefficient) and, of course, the insanity of subsidies.

 His points include:

  • High-fructose corn syrup is only popular because of US tariffs on sugar.
  • Locally grown food only works when something is in season locally, and besides, sometimes distant areas can grow/raise the item more efficiently.
  • If dairy subsidies were eliminated tomorrow, a gallon of milk in Chicago would cost 20 cents less.
  • Organic foods will never replace mass-produced ones; they’re just too expensive.
  • Biofuel demand and policies may be responsible for up to 50% of recent food price inflation.