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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
Agricultural Economist Has Growing Concerns
Evan Webb, left, and Erik Yablou harvest organic potatoes on July 23, 2008, at Piedmont Biofarm in Pittsboro, NC   (AP Photo)

(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.

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 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.
(Read more agriculture stories.)

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