Basic Position: We have to prepare for the future, when our food production
cannot be based on imported petroleum. We need to stop taxpayer
subsidization of corporations and decentralize our food production
Overview: The agriculture system in the U.S. is highly productive - and in critical care mode. The diversity of old-time seed has been replaced by genetically identical seed. Manual labor has been replaced by mechanized labor, requiring petroleum for plowing, harvesting, and transporting food. Petroleum supplies are expected to diminish within 2 decades. Soil is depleted, requiring massive inputs of fertilizer. Only massive use of herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides allows for a good harvest. Meanwhile, global warming is contributing to a long-term drought cycle (See the Drought Map).
Public policy has been to subsidize the agriculture sector to the tune of $74 billion in 2003, including "$6.4 billion in spending for international trade programs, a $50 million increase, designed to promote U.S. agricultural exports" (per USDA).
Solutions: Taxpayer money should be used only to insure the safety of the food supply for consumers. It should not fatten the profits of the multinational agribusiness companies. I would make sure the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is fully funded, allow funds for research on the transitions that are necessary, and keep education and loan programs but not subsidies for family farms.
We need to introduce a tax (to be increased over time) on all pesticides, so that over time pesticides will only be used for genuine emergencies. We need tax incentives to encourage a shift to organic fertilizers, including production of green manures and recycling of animal wastes, so that there is a transition away from petroleum-based fertilizer production.
We also need to shift from petroleum and coal-based energy to biofuels and renewable energy.
I strongly advocate that you study the Web site of the Community Food Security Coalition for more information.