U.S. farm subsidies continue world impoverishment

The United States presents itself as the world’s paragon of virtue, dangling pittances of aid to impoverished countries like a mother robin dangling worms for her starving chicks. Indeed, the United States is on top of the world, but through our use of farm subsidies, we keep poor countries at the bottom of the barrel.

The United States spends $20 billion annually subsidizing American farmers of corn, cotton, sugar, wheat and other crops. Traditionally, Americans believed farm subsidies help small family farms. However, the majority of farm subsidies go toward large corporate farms. These corporate farms work to undercut world markets because farm subsidies encourage overproduction, thus driving down global food prices. The surplus is then dumped into the markets of poor countries, further driving down prices and driving their farmers out of business.

For many countries agriculture is the only economic route available to allow for some source of self-sufficiency. American corporate farms do not need subsidies and will not be drastically affected if the subsidies are lifted. Considering the countries most likely to benefit from the eradication of farm subsidies are decades behind in agricultural technology, U.S. farms will continue. Subsidizing these corporate farms is costly and contradictory to the free market philosophy. The United States cannot proclaim itself the liberator of the world while simultaneously keeping poorer countries bound by protectionist policies.

According to the World Bank, farm subsidies by developed countries cost poorer countries $350 billion per year. Considering that aid to those countries tops out at $50 billion, it is evident that eliminating the unfair practices of corporate farm subsidies is the crucial step to furthering development. The United States is the richest country in the world, but meanwhile it is allowing global poverty to continue by its subsidation practices. If the United States truly wants to help impoverished countries, it can start by lifting costly and unnecessary farm subsidies.