Agriculture Workshop Comment Number: AGW-13457

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Comment Number: AGW-13457

From: Dan & Amy
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2009 3:43 PM
To: ATR-Agricultural Workshops
Subject: corporate consolidation in the food industry


To Whom it May Concern:

I am a stay-at-home mom and a member of the local Board of Education in
my community.  As someone who is focused on feeding my family more
delicious and nutritious foods, including organic foods, I am concerned
about the consolidation of corporate power in the food and agriculture
sector.

The profit structure and incentives of large corporations are distinctly
misaligned with positive nutritional and health objectives.  As food and
agricultural corporations have grown and consolidated, their lobbies
have become ever more powerful, ultimately influencing every aspect of
US agricultural policy - with consequences that are entirely detrimental
to public health.  And the lowest grades of these foods somehow make it
into the lunches we serve in our public schools to our children.  Our
children are the future of our country and we should be making every
effort to ensure that we start them off in life with healthy foods.  It
particularly infuriates me that my tax dollars subsidize the production
of corn syrup, for example, which is significantly contributing to the
obesity crisis - which is then requiring even more of my tax dollars to
address through healthcare.  If we ate a healthier diet in the first
place, we would not need to spend so much money on healthcare later. 
Agricultural subsidies were intended to help our struggling farmers, not
to keep food costs artificially low or to line the pockets of major
corporations like Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland.  There is
definitely a problem here.

Single crop farming, like that done on industrial food supply farms, is
destroying the soils while creating crops that are less nutritious and
have less flavor.  Heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers are creating
environmental hazards to the farm workers, the neighbors, and the people
who eat these crops.  Animals raised in large-scale facilities create
enormous amounts of water pollution, are kept in appalling conditions,
and are fed/injected with large amounts of antibiotics.  And how about
the carbon footprint created by our well-traveled food.  An average of
1,500 miles from farm to plate is enormous, and seems like an inevitable
byproduct of corporate concentration - large corporations will always
want to centralize production to create efficient economies of scale. 
There are certainly real benefits to efficiency and centralization in
some sectors of the economy, but transporting tomatoes or beef or milk
across the country - when much of it could be done just as well more
regionally - doesn't make sense.  There is nothing sustainable about
this system.

Intensive agriculture is also responsible for the spread of disease such
as bird flu, swine flu, and mad cow disease, and the spread of bacteria
like e. coli and salmonella.  Such intensive conditions are rare in
independently owned farms.  There is something terribly wrong when foods
grown with chemicals (such as fertilizers, pesticides, and antibiotics)
and then heavily processed (as some foods are - like many meats) cost
less than healthier foods grown naturally.

Thank you for the opportunity to weigh in on this important matter.  I
look forward to following the hearings process in the coming year.

Sincerely,
Amy Winkler
90 Chetwood Terrace
Fanwood, NJ  07023

Updated April 7, 2016

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