The United States and European Union are both major food producers and rightly so: they have a lot of people they need to feed. And farming has changed in immeasurable ways over the history of both regions. What used to be the job of millions of citizens is now able to be done by just a few people, relatively speaking.
Something that has changed as well is the system of agricultural subsidies. These programs, originally developed to help farmers ride out the Great Depression in the US and life after WWII in the EU have turned into an entirely different system. No longer are many of these farmers trying just to make ends meet; now many farmers are very wealthy and propped up by these subsidy programs. The Farm Bill in the US and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the EU now act as unnecessary and wasteful programs that are a drain on the taxpayers of their regions, contribute to environmental degradation, and restrict the development of third-world countries agricultural economies and need change.
- Agricultural subsidies started in the United States under FDR’s New Deal
- In the EU, they began after WWII, in the heat of reconstruction
- They are intended to prop up national industries and make sure a country has control of their own food industry.
- The US funds their subsidies by the Farm Bill, which allocates about $17-$20 billion a year to various farming subsidies — the rest goes to SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Within the EU, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) determines how agricultural policy is distributed, and across the EU it determines over 40% of the shared budget, or 57.5 billion euros.