Scientific American just published its political wish list for 2011, and at the tippy top is drastic reforms to farm subsidies:
The nation’s agricultural policy is due for an update in 2012. This gives Congress an opportunity both to cut spending and to help the environment. Federal subsidies now mostly reward large farms for planting monocultures of corn, soybeans, wheat and rice. Much of that food goes to factory farms, where tightly packed animals provide a breeding ground for infectious diseases and produce vast quantities of waste that poses an environmental hazard. The current system devours fossil fuels, depletes the soil and pollutes waterways. It also makes high-sugar foods and beef artificially cheap, contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemic. Through a transition in the way subsidies are allocated, the government should encourage a progressive return to sustainable, integrated farming, which alternates commodity crops with legumes and with grass for pasture.
Big ag will hate this, especially factory farmers, but it’s long overdue and bound to happen sooner rather than later. You can thank the Bittmans and Pollans of the world for pushing this once radical idea into the mainstream. (Via Shapiro.) Link.