DESCRIPTION: Recent food films such as “Fresh,” “Food Inc.,” and “King Corn” help us all to learn about farm and food issues. They show us clear and gut wrenching information about key problems. They fail, however, to accurately present the policy causes of these problems or the policy solutions. Instead they give a false policy cause, and by implication, a false policy solution. Inadvertently and unknowingly, they therefore side with the status quo, against US and world farmers, and for the largest corporate agribusinesses that hide behind these false policies, this false paradigm.
The purpose of this blog is to link you to my recently posted video: “Food Films Review,” or “False Food Films.” If you are familiar with my blog posts on the farm bill, you’ll already understand the issue. What the video does is show, through short video clips, specifically what the videos present (falsely), and fail to show, and what the proof is as to why it’s false.
My video (click text): “Food Films Review“
(Technical Notes: It didn’t load at Z, my first try with a video, so I put it at YouTube. Secondly, I only began to learn anything about using iMovie last summer. My iMovie skills were still not up to speed when I made this. After failing to complete this video prior to my trip to Washington DC last winter, I burned what I had, then using the DVD and what I had with me on my laptop, I ran it through again, adding to it. Then I used it with D.C. Church rural justice staff. Then last night I ran it through again, adding clips from King Corn. I’ve long hesitated to post it, but I find nothing at all like it out there. So, my flaws and all, for the farmers and the hungry of the world, here it is.)
References for the film
Major leaders, documents on these issues that I used in the film:
NFFC: Food from Family Farms Act:
Tufts U: “The paradox of Agricultural Subsidies,” p. 21,
APAC: “Rethinking US Agricultural Policy: Changing Course to Secure Farmer Livelihoods Worldwide:”
APAC: “It’s Price Responsiveness! It’s Price Responsiveness!I T’S PRICE RESPONSIVENESS!!!”
IATP: “WTO Agreement on Agriculture: A Decade of Dumping:”
George Naylor (historical context):
A Legacy of Crisis:
Farm Bill Basics:
Two documents with major falsehoods:
Bread for the World: “Hunger 2007: Healthy Food, Farms and Families:” (can’t find, except to order)
OXFAM: “Fairness in the Fields: A Vision for the 2007 Farm Bill:”
Other major statistical sources behind some comments/ text/charts in the film:
USDA-ERS: Commodity Costs and Returns:
USDA-NASS: Historical Track Record – Crop Production
USDA-ERS: “Government Payments: United States by Program, 1933-2009
UN-ESA: (Percent/number rural, urban by country, region, economic status)
Some of the specific historical data for the rice (corn, etc.) charts (and for the other major commodities,) was harder to find. Here are some sources to the history data of price floors (loan rates) and individual annual parity prices of various commodities.
USDA:ERS: Program Provision for Program crops: A Database for 1961-90
USDA-NASS: Agricultural Statistics Annual
NFO: “The Reporter:” (various issues: chart shows monthly price and parity data*)
National Farmers Union Newsletters: “Farm Price Barometer”*
“DecaTrillion Dollar Issue:”
I refer to the US Farm Bill Commodity title as a “deca-trillion dollar issue.” To get that number, I take the losses for the five big commodities (corn, wheat, rice, cotton, soybeans,) plus 3 more (grain sorghum, barley, oats) plus I can add peanuts for many years, etc. These are US losses vs. ERS full costs (link above). Then I estimate world production and losses. I also estimate fair trade, living wage prices above zero. I put it in constant dollars. I multiply all of these per acre figures by acres planted (for the 8 crops, US only it’s about $300 billion 1981-2006) There are additional years of losses, I’m sure, for the years prior to the 1970s price spike when the NFO got riled up. I then multiply for the larger impact, the loss of the wealth this farm income could have generated (multipliers) in the US economy, and in the world economy. Historically that was estimated as a ratio of $7 generated for each $1 earned on a diversified family farm. That easily gets me into the deca-trillions. Daryll E. Ray at APAC feels certain that the 7/1 ration is too high, but the real ratio is unknown. Deca-trillions may or may not be too high, but multi trillions is easily accurate. However, policy like the US farm bill is not the whole story, so the issue becomes a question of what is “necessary” and what is “sufficient.”
A key factor here is the US as price leader, as being able to set world farm prices, which Ray discusses in the main link above. Certainly world trade agreements also play a major role, and I don’t claim that the farm bill alone is responsible for such a number. There are, of course, many other factors in various individual countries.
Keep in mind also, that due to inflation, the figures for each year go up every year, and it’s been a few years since I figured this.
GDP Deflator (one of 7 ways) (I used)
Most of this and more is also linked in my zspace: “Farm Bill Primer” (https://zcomm.org/zblogs/farm-justice-primer-a-farm-bill-primer/) and “Food Crisis Primer.” (https://zcomm.org/zblogs/food-crisis-primer/)
See also related zspace blog articles on the food movement and Michael Pollan.
Cf. Google: “Brad Wilson” AND (various related issues, names).