Political Goals to Advance the Vegan Position
William Harris, M.D.
a nutshell: the vegans have all the arguments, but the animal-source
food biz has all the money. And it's our money. Here are
two political goals which would redress this problem.
Eliminate USDA subsidies and allow food
production to accurately reflect market demand.
Pamela Rice at Viva Veggie has tracked the spoor of Dan Glickman,
secretary of the USDA, in 1998: Glickman bought $30 million
of beef, $30 million of pork, $8 million of lamb, $18 million of
poultry, and $10 million of salmon using our tax moneys. This was
in addition to the $141 million of beef purchased by the USDA for
the 1997-98 school lunch program. There's also an $11 million program
to give dairy producers in selected counties a financial incentive
to "use options to manage their price risks."
Here are Glickman's rationalizations:
- "This bonus buy supports the beef industry by bolstering
producer prices. The beef roasts purchased today will
be used for distribution in the National School Lunch Program
and other food assistance programs."
- "Dairy farmers are facing tough times these days."
- "The lamb industry has been under pressure ... these
additional lamb purchases will help offset the surplus supply
of lamb which is depressing prices to producers."
- "... to help improve prices for cattle producers and
the livestock industry. "
- "Our purchase of salmon not only assists fisherman
facing low prices but also recipients of our food assistance
- "...maintain prices and improve nutrition in the school
Decoded: Cave in to political
pressure from the animal food biz, which has always faced "tough
times" and has never been satisfied with its "depressing
prices", and dump the surplus on the kids and the poor people.
Total giveaways: $248 million of our tax moneys to shore up the
production of foods that can't make it on the free market.
The USDA gives new meaning to the term "pork". As of June
5, 1998 Glickman's predecessor, Mike Espe, was facing Federal charges
that Tyson Foods lobbyists gave him $12,000 worth of gifts to influence
U.S. Agriculture Department regulations.
From 1986 to 1994 USDA "Deficiency Payments" averaged
$7 billion per year. By the provisions of the 1996 Farm Bill
they are now called "Production flexibility contract payments"
and they will average $5.2 billion/year to the year 2002.
(1) Most of the money will go to feed grain production or
to crops with byproducts that can be transformed into feed grain,
so the animal food biz is here getting additional but de facto
Where did the idea originate that food production must be underwritten
by the government? One certainty in life is that people must
eat and will eat, and that farmers will grow the foods that people
want to eat and are willing to pay for. Decisions on what
to eat are normally made on the basis of taste, habit, nutritional
value, and cost, but then our government steps in and distorts the
market by making animal foods look cheap.
Eliminate tax deductions for health-sensitive advertising.
Tobacco is used here as a good example, but whenever it's mentioned
just substitute the words meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy because
the same arguments apply.
The U.S. tobacco industry does about $5 billion/year in tobacco
advertising (2.) and since its corporate tax rate is about 33%,
the deduction saves the industry roughly .33x$5 billion or $1.65
billion/year. The lost revenue is made up by the taxpayers.
State-by-state advertising bills for tobacco are not known,
but it is also a state tax-deductible expense.
IRS Form 1120, the math appears to be the following:
S=savings to tobacco industry from advertising tax deductions
S=T x I-T x (I-A) = T x I-T x I+T x A =T x A If T=33% and A= $5
billion, then S=33%x$5 billion=$1.65 billion
And how d'ye like payin' the wee lads to tell lies to the kiddies?
"Well, why carp over another government giveaway," I hear
you ask. It's because the animal food biz plows the profit margins
it gets from USDA handouts into tax-deductible advertising and nutritional
misinformation that ties up the media and the educational system
and freezes the veg*n position out. See how far you'll get on ad-dependent
TV when your arguments are bordered by puffs for MacDonalds and
Try veg*n lecturing at a university where the nutrition department
is taking money from the National Dairy Council. Many writers,
a few vegetarian, have condemned the USDA price support system (3.).
To my knowledge, no one has considered the implications of advertising
tax deductions. Eliminating both would save money and is intuitive
and logical: liars should not be paid to teach.
(1) Economic Research Service, USDA
1996 Farm Act Increases Market Orientation
(2.)Bartecchi CE, MacKenzie TD, and Schrier RW.
The Global Tobacco Epidemic
May 1995 p50
(3.) Bovard, James.The Farm Fiasco. How federal agriculture policy
squanders billions of dollars a year, sacrifices the poor to the
gives congressmen and bureaucrats vast arbitrary powers over American
citizens. Institute for Contemporary Studies. San Francisco, 1989.