Commodities & Metals

The Nine Foods The Government Is Paying For You To Eat

5. Beer
> Commodity: Sorghum, Barley
> Total Subsidies (1995-2010): $10.6 billion
> % Change in Annual Subsidies (1995-2010): -4.3% (Sorghum) -1.4% (Barley)

> Biggest Producers:  Anheuser-Busch InBev, MillerCoors, Pabst

Two of the most subsidized crops in America, Barley and Sorghum, go into making one of the most popular beverages in the country. Other than being used as animal feed, the most common use for each of these products is to aid in beer production. Sorghum and Barley are put through the malting process, in which they are converted to syrup used in fermentation. Forty-four percent of Barley is used in this way. In 2008, Americans drank 21.7 gallons of beer per capita, down just slightly from 21.9 gallons in 1995. Nearly the same amount of milk is consumed each year.

4. Rice
> Commodity: Rice
> Total Subsidies (1995-2010): $12.9 billion
> % Change in Annual Subsidies (1995-2010): -52%
> Biggest Producers: American Rice,

According to the USA Rice Federation, “rice is the primary dietary staple for more than half of the world’s population.” This may soon be the case in the U.S. Rice has consistently become more popular in the U.S. over the past 15 years, with the average American eating 21 pounds of the grain in 2008. This amount is up 22% from 17.1 pounds in 1995. Government rice subsidies have totaled $12.9 billion since 1995. Eighty-five percent of the rice that is consumed in the U.S. is also grown domestically.

3. Soybean Oil
> Commodity: Soybeans
> Total Subsidies (1995-2010): $24.3 billion
> % Change in Annual Subsidies (1995-2010): +1,047%
> Biggest Producers: Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland

Soybeans are the first of the three American food crops that make up the vast majority of national subsidy recipients. In the last 15 years, $24.3 billion went to soybean growers, more than Rice, Sorghum and Dairy combined. According to the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association “nearly all soybeans are processed for their oil.” Once the oil has been extracted, it is used for cooking, as a preservative and flavor enhancer. It is also made into specialty health products like tofu and soy milk, which have exploded in popularity in recent years.

2. Bread
> Commodity: Wheat
> Total Subsidies (1995-2010): $32.4 billion
> % Change in Annual Subsidies (1995-2010): +141%
> Biggest Producers: Entenmann’s, Pepperidge Farm, Sara Lee

Bread has been a staple food in the U.S. for generations. Yet, despite the popularity of both bread and other wheat products, wheat has been heavily subsidized for years, with the industry receiving over $1 billion every year since 1996. Between 1995 and 2010, over $32 billion was given for the production of wheat. Wheat subsidies seem to have at least some direct effect on consumers’ habits. In 2000, the government spent almost $4 billion on wheat subsidies and the average American consumed 146.3 pounds of wheat flour. In 2005, the government spent $1.5 billion on subsidies and the amount of wheat flour consumed per person dropped to 134.4 pounds.

1. Corn Syrup
> Commodity:
> Total Subsidies (1995-2010): $77.1 billion
> % Change in Annual Subsidies (1995-2010): +24%Fi
> Biggest Producers: Archer Daniels Midland

It is well-publicized that corn is by far the most subsidized crop in America, with farmers garnering over $77 billion in the last fifteen years. This sum is as much as the total combined amounts for rice, soybeans and wheat. While a large part of this funding comes from massive subsidy funding for corn-based ethanol, which can be used as an alternative source of gas, corn is one of the most-consumed grains in the country. In 1980, Americans consumed 12.9 pounds per capita of corn-based products. Since then, partially as a result of the introduction of corn syrup as a common sweetener in food and soda, that number has grown to 33 pounds per capita.

Michael Sauter & Douglas A. McIntyre

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