A Win-Lose Proposition for Farmers and Consumers
From the website of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture:
Washington, DC – The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) this week released a proposal to address the critical economic situation of American dairy, pork, and poultry producers, while simultaneously providing much-needed nutritional assistance to Americans facing hunger due to job loss and other economic hardships.
People whose careers involve creating, fattening, transporting and slaughtering sentient nonhumans whose parts and secretions will then be used as food are having some financial difficulties.
Along with the rest of the country.
To "help these industries survive this economic downturn and gain a solid footing for the future," NASDA is proposing a "bold solution: a plan to take extra inventories off the market to reduce supply, all while providing vital nutritious, protein-rich foods to those who are unable to afford them, which is in more demand now than ever before."
Translation? First let's deconstruct:
- The recession has caused a decrease in demand for animal products. I say stop right there, as Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman and Jonathan Safron Foer could be behind the decrease. We don't really know. We do know that a feature of a recession is that all sectors are affected in the same direction, and I don't see anyone proposing a bold solution for writers or editors.
- What if consumers have genuinely been paying attention and have realized that animal products aren't that healthy, are an environmental disaster (the way most are produced) and not sustainable and are a blatant, direct signs of the largest and longest injustice in human history? What if Meatless Mondays and all of the messages about decreasing consumption of animal products have made a difference and consumers have spoken? What if this has nothing to do with the recession or less than one might think (nothing's a tough sell)? Why the rescue plan? The market has spoken; this is supposed to be capitalism, not corporate socialism.
But all of that aside, the bold solution is: Americans who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be the targeted consumers of the surplus (in addition to military food assistance programs in places like Afghanistan).
"By removing these excess products off the market, and placing them into
food assistance programs, we will quickly stabilize the prices for
these products, allowing the producers to break-even, or perhaps even
make a profit on their farms. Simultaneously, our fellow citizens
struggling to put food on their table will find themselves with more
opportunities for healthy, protein-rich meals.”
So people with lower incomes, who already have higher incidences of
obesity and diabetes and already don't eat as well as people with
higher incomes, will be the intended consumers of exactly the type of
foods they don't need to be eating. And that's being done as a favor of
sorts, a gift to them by the benevolent NASDA.
Perhaps just as ironic is the mission of the NASDA, which includes "protection of animal and plant health, stewardship of our environment, and promoting the vitality of our rural communities."