farm policy


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Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore

How US Farm Subsidies Make Taxpayers Pay Twice (And How We Could Change That)

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Usually, when you buy something, you pay for it just once. But if you’re a US taxpayer, you’re paying twice for the food system you’re “buying” with your hard-earned tax dollars. An example: today’s massive federal farm subsidies encourage farming practices that lead to toxic algae blooms, drinking water pollution, and other costly problems we have to pay for again downstream. By contrast, modest investment in just one proven alternative farming system would achieve annual savings—in the form of water pollution averted—of $850 million. Read more >

Photo: Iowa State University/Lisa Schulte Moore
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Good News and Bad News on This Year’s Dead Zone Measurement

, Kendall Science Fellow

For the first time since monitoring began in 1985, there will be no official measurement of the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we already know how to cost effectively reduce water pollution. Read more >

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Photo: US Department of Agriculture/flickr

Trapped in an Endless Cycle of Corn, Farmers Need Better Choices

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Another July 4 has come and gone, and that old saying about a farmer’s corn this time of year (“knee high by the Fourth of July”) is a thing of the past too. Nowadays, the corn plants in many fields around the country are more like waist-high (or even taller!) in early July, and growing fast. But while a bumper harvest of corn seems like a good thing, the dirty little secret in corn country is that a glut of the stuff is wreaking havoc on farm families, on rural economies, and on all of us as taxpayers. Read more >

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Refocusing the Farm Bill

, sr. scientist emeritus, Food & Environment

The current farm bill debate is unprecedented, shaking to its very foundation the powerful alliance of commodity and food stamp interests that has driven farm bills for decades. The failure of the House to include a nutrition program in its version of the farm bill, while lavishing public monies on farmers to encourage commodity crop production, is the height of hypocrisy…and mean-spirited as well. Read more >

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The Transition To Crop Rotation: How Do We Get There?

, sr. scientist emeritus, Food & Environment

Recently, we have seen a flurry of stories about studies done on Iowa State University’s Marsden Farm demonstrating the power of crop rotation as an engine of modern sustainable agriculture. The study documented high yields and handsome profits on farming plots employing long crop rotations: three-or four-year rather than the usual two-year corn-soy rotations. In addition to high yields and high profits, the long rotations controlled weeds with only sparing use of herbicides and maintained productivity without excessive use of chemical fertilizers. Read more >

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