Michael Pollan Rebuttal: Four Proofs Against Pollan’s Corn “Subsidy” Argument

Michael Pollan Rebuttal:  Four Proofs Against Pollan’s Corn “Subsidy” Argument

Part 1 of the video can be found:  CLICK HERE:  or:


Part 2 of the video can be found CLICK HERE:  OR:


(I’ve recently fixed, updated these links.  B.W. 7/31/19)

I present four proofs in rebuttal of Michael Pollan’s farm subsidy argument.


1. Economically, low farm prices are caused by a lack of price responsiveness on both supply and demand sides, not by subsidies.

2. Farm prices went down for years, when there were NO subsidies, so there is zero correlation between commodity subsidies and the lowering of farm prices for those years.  Instead we find that price floors were lowered, and prices followed them right down.  Subsidies came after the fact to quiet down (and blame) angry farmers.  The evidence of history supports me, not Pollan.

HOWEVER, Congress lowered Price Floors over these same years, and that is the (unmentioned) political cause of the cheap prices in the Farm Bill.


3. Econometric studies support me and contradict Pollan.  Five studies cited by Timothy Wise, at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, found very small impacts of subsidy elimination on the prices of these commodities (ie. “program crops”), well under 5% and sometimes below zero.  This contrasts with the much larger percentages of export dumping (below cost, below zero, farm exports), and these percentages do not cover the full range up to a fair trade, living wage price.

MEANWHILE, a series of major econometric studies found that raising price floors (with supply management,) greatly fixes the problem of cheap commodity prices.

4. Real world evidence from subsidy elimination in other countries also supports me, not Pollan.  In three countries discussed by Daryll E. Ray at APAC (University of Tennessee), subsidy elimination did not fix the problem of oversupply, which leads to low prices.

Key Sources (see videos, both parts 1 and 2, and also):

See major econometric studies listed here, both on the benefits and impact of raising Price Floors, and on the failure of mere subsidy elimination to have the needed impacts:

Brad Wilson, “Primer: Farm Justice Proposals for the 2012 Farm Bill,” ZSpace, 5/11/12, https://zcomm.org/zblogs/primer-farm-justice-proposals-for-the-2012-farm-bill-by-brad-wilson/

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