DIRT RICH, DIRT POOR: America's Food and Farm Crisis by Joseph & Others Belden

DIRT RICH, DIRT POOR: America's Food and Farm Crisis

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A survey of the problems of US agriculture, of' the federal government's farm policies and of possible alternative approaches, compiled by the Institute for Policy Studies, a public-interest think tank. Tacked on is a final chapter on the 1985 farm law and its likely effect on farmers. According to IPS, the prognosis for many farmers is not good. Some of the most pressing concerns: farm surpluses grow, depressing farm income and increasing the number of foreclosures; soil erosion and other environmental problems worsen. A growing number of Americans suffer from malnutrition due to the severe cutbacks in federal support programs in recent years. Increasing economic concentration in the food industry seems to line the pockets of a few giant food processors while consumers and farmers lose out. Meanwhile, American food aid is geared more to the well-being of US agriculture than to the starving citizens of the less-developed world. For the past 50 years, Washington has responded to these problems by instituting a bewildering array of credit, tax, price support, export and food supplement programs often working at cross purposes. Under the current administration, export- and market-oriented agricultural policies are chic. The authors propose a number of alternative solutions aimed at ending the bias toward large farm operators, providing more food assistance to America's undernourished, sponsoring programs that encourage direct farmer-to-consumer marketing, instituting stricter soil conservation and other environmental controls and encouraging agricultural self-sufficiency in poor countries. The section on the 1985 farm package is already dated, and the implications of impending tax-reform legislation are barely touched upon. Nevertheless, this is by and large a well-articulated liberal vision for the future of American agriculture.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Routledge & Kegan Paul/Metheun