Democratic Petition to Michael Pollan

Do you remember the days of Democratic farm policy?  No farm subsidies.  No cheap corn.  Fair trade, living wage prices for farmers. No export dumping.  The U.S. economy being stimulated by making a profit (instead of losing money) on farm commodity exports (where we dominate the world in volume of export sales). No hidden, off books multibillion dollar annual below cost gains for Cargill & ADM at America’s expense.  No de facto subsidies to transfats and high fructose corn syrup.  No multibillion dollar feed gains to take the value-added of livestock away from diversified farmers and give it to unsustainable, inhumane, economically harmful animal factories.  
Wow!  Those were the days!  Henry Wallace!  FDR!  Harry Truman!  A New Deal!  An end to Hooverism!  
Today tough times remind  us of the Depression Roosevelt inherited. Tired of living in “Hooverville?” Had to move in with relatives?  
Well, let’s get to work!  It’s time to work on the next farm bill.  Hey, we have a great big food movement, the largest progressive farm bill movement since “the populist moment!”
Uh oh.  The food movement supports a Republican farm bill.
“Republican Farm Bill:” (definition) A U.S. farm bill Commodity Title spun as “free market,””balance the budget”legislation,””business minded”in which the failure of the free market, (the economic fact of the lack of price responsiveness for farm commodities on both supply and demand sides, so that America loses money on farm exports and our farmers go broke,) is either ignored (Hoover, Eisenhower) in the name of “freedom,”or partly ignored but partly compensated by massive subsidies (Reagan, “Contract for [/on] America”crowd) spun as “safety nets,”which blame farmers for the failure of the free market and conceal from public view the much larger defacto subsidies (below cost gains) to buyers of farm program crops (ie. multinational exporters, food and feed mills, ethanol and other processors, animal factories).
“Freedom to Farm:”(definition) A temporary “Republican Farm Bill”that lacks compensatory farmer subsidies, and therefore fails to hide it’s free market failurs so enormously that Bankers lobby Congress to pass four emergency farm bills (between 1996 and 2002).
Ok, let’s be fair.  The food movement strongly opposes a Republican farm bill in principle.  In theory, they’re against all of the bad stuff listed above.  Just look at the food films!  Fed Up! Food Inc.!  Corn King! Fast Food Nation! Fresh!  The Future of Food!  Ideologically, the food movement is a huge supporter of the goals of a Democratic farm bill!
Great!  That’s one step!  Ok, that should be enough, right?
Well, not quite.  Do we remember what a Democrat is?  (Cringe!)  Is it someone who looks like,… well,… who reminds you of, say, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., someone vilified as liberal, progressive, socialist, communist, fascist (wow, on a roll…)?
Well…, not quite.  That can still be someone who supports zero enactment of Henry Wallace’s price floors and supply management, (on the bottom side of the free market failure,) causing poverty and starvation across the globe.  That can still be someone who supports zero enactment of strategic grain and other commodity reserves, with price ceilings, (on the top side of the free market failure,) to trigger the release of food/feed grains and other commodities onto the market when market prices spike upwards, as in the Nixon era secret grain deal with the Soviet Union. (The Communists in the Soviet Union secretly bought massive amounts of US farmers’ grain at very cheap prices, with help from Nixon’s Ag Secretary, Earl Butz, then when it became publicly known, prices skyrocketed and more than doubled the value of the purchase.  Butz then hailed it as a glorious new free market day for agriculture, when Democratic farm policy would no longer be needed.  Then came the 1980s farm crisis, with the massive farm forclosures and empty small town store fronts, that we still have all across Iowa today, furiously reinforced by the 1990s factory farm crisis.)
Ok, being Democratic in the 21st century:  where do you find it?  
During the 1980s & 1990s farm state Democrats championed the cause of a Democratic Farm Bill:  Sen. Tom Harkin, (IA) Sen. Paul Wellstone (MN), Rep. Dick Gephardt (MO), Rep. Tom Daschle (SD), Sen. Paul Simon, (IL).  It was called the Harkin-Gephardt Farm Bill.  Do they do so today, in the 21st century?  No, their 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills and proposals were greened up versions of the Republican “Freedom to Fail”Farm Bill.   Ok, but can you find a Democratic Farm Bill in the Green Party?  No, their leaders also supported a greened up version of the Republican “Freedom to Fail”bill (“Freedom to Fail””with a human face”).  How about Libertarian Ron Paul?  No, he supported Freedom to Fail without a human face, straight Hooverism.  
The huge new progressive food movement!?  Sorry, ditto.
Ok, don’t write off the food movement too quickly.  Their message got out all across the mass media.  They have a leader with a significant bully pulpit, Michael Pollan (best selling books , Oprah, 8000 words in the New York Times, more than a million hits on YouTube, featured in  series of bold new food films).  After Obama won, they were able to get out a farm & food petition to him in a very short time that garnered 100,000 signatures!  In theory they would support a Democratic Farm Bill!  
Of course, as I imply above in my definition of a Republican farm bill, “in theory,”or “in principle”doesn’t count in U.S. politics.  The food movement is young.  They’re mostly not farmers.  They may not know which end of a cow gets up first (actually, foodies think it’s the Democratic end, that’s the problem).  They’ve usually never heard of the Democratic champions of Harkin-Gephardt.  It’s usually not in the food films, blogs, books (not to get noticed anyway, not to be remembered).
To remedy this situation, I’ve posted a petition at, calling on Michael Pollan to mobilize food movement leaders in support of a Democratic farm bill.  It’s called:  “Michael Pollan, Lead the Food Movement to Corn Price Floors,”(Harkin-Gephardt).  
Attached to the petition is part 1 of my Pollan video series:  “Michael Pollan Rebuttal 1: Debunking Pollan’s ‘Corn Subsidy’ Argument.” The second and final part of the series can be found at my YouTube Channel, FireweedFarm.    Part 2 is important, because it tells you where to find out who’s been keeping Harkin-Gephardt alive (ie.  At my YouTube channel you’ll also find several historical videos telling about Harkin-Gephardt.
I view my petition as a measure of the food movement.  How many people sign will be a measure of how well the food movement can overcome the false information and wrong headed (pro agribusiness) advocacy that they did on the last farm bill.  
I can also see it as a measure of being a Democrat.  If being a Democrat in the 21st century means Hooverism with a green face, then few Democrats will listen to me.  The petition won’t have much impact.  In either case, (foodies or Democrats,) however, I will have made my point!
Bringing Democrats back to being Democratic, (or Foodies forward to effective farm and food policy,) has many challenges.  People resist paradigm change. They don’t ever change just by proof that they’re wrong.  Fortunately, in this case the essential alternative paradigm is readily available:  Harkin-Gephardt, New Deal Farm Policy, an authentically Democratic farm bill.  In other words, this isn’t just “saying no,”without also proposing a way to “say yes.” And in this case, the Democratic Yes has a long and successful track record in the real world, plus significant econometric support, as I show part 2 of my Pollan videos.
With that in mind, Democrats, please join us.  Here’s a chance to be boldly Democratic!  Sign on.  

About the Author(s)

Brad Wilson