Report: Most Taxpayer Money Subsidizes Junk Food

A consumer report released Wednesday revealed the majority of taxpayer subsidies are being funneled toward crops used to make junk food and food additives, like high fructose corn syrup.


Ron Cornelson, of Cornelson Farms, makes the trek from Fresno County to the Santa Monica Farmers market every Wednesday to sell the fruits from his 10-acre farm.

“I’ve never seen a subsidy. I’ve tried and, as far I know, it all goes to the big guys and other commodities,” Cornelson said.

Nearly all California farmers – 91 percent, according to CALPIRG field director Anne Ohliger – don’t receive these food subsidies.

The report, Apples to Twinkies 2012, found that three-quarters of all agricultural subsidies goes to commodity crops – like corn – and support four major junk-food additives, Ohliger said. Those additives are high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, corn starch and soy oils.

From 2005 to 2011, $18.2 billion went to subsidies for junk food additives compared to $637 million for apples, the only significant federal subsidy of fresh fruit and vegetables, according to CALPIRG.

That would buy each tax payer 21 Twinkies, or half of one apple.

The statewide consumer group says this discrepancy in funding exacerbates an obesityrate that has tripled over the last three decades, which in turn leads to rising medical costs.

“Congress is looking at the farm bill as we speak, and they have the opportunity to cut this kind of wasteful spending,” Ohlinger said.

Local farmers contend that government moneyshould support small businesses.

“The subsidies would help me do things that I need to do that I can’t do now,” Cornelson said.

His attempts to save money a few years ago by installing a more economical irrigation system cost him thousands of dollars after being denied a subsidy.