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Racist corporate farmers rake in the dough while the US inner cities starve owing Trump’s austerity measures

Racist corporate farmers rake in the dough while the US inner cities starve owing Trump’s austerity measures

Remember this Washington Post (WP) story

Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic —we need more funding our Farmers to Families Food Box program.


It was in the business section. 

A story on people going hungry in the business section and just randomly bringing up the “Farmers to Families Food Box Program” —looked shady as hell to me, and it turns out that it was. 

Racist Georgian Sonny Perdue, the Perdue who purposely mispronounced US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ name at a Trump rally, is the secretary of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA is the department in charge of Food Stamps, now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The WP story on food banks running out of food and the subsequent reports of the people starving that conspicuously downplayed the idea that Food Stamps —wasn’t about helping people. Media printed those reports with the purpose of making sure that corporate farmers continued to get CARES Act funding.

“The CARES Act dedicates $9.5 billion in assistance to agricultural producers and an additional $14 billion in funding to the USDA to create an aid package for farmers who have seen a crash in commodity prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

USDA

The money to produce those small amounts of food boxes goes mostly directly to large corporate farms. 

“Several federal food programs that have provided billions of dollars in fresh produce, dairy, and meat to US food banks also are set to expire at the end of the year. The largest among them, the Farmers to Families Food Box. It has provided more than 120 million food boxes during the pandemic and is already running out of funding in many parts of the country.” 

Washington Post

How many meals were provided by the 120 million (maybe, they don’t know) boxes compared to Food Stamps that fed 39 million people in 2019?  Food Stamps provides meals three times a day, 30ish days a month, 12 months a year.  That’s over 1.4 billion meals, and funding that fluctuates with need.

Food stamps is a more efficient program.

Yet, for some reason, no one has a problem with programs in which overwhelmingly white, rich farmers get money directly. The largest among them, the Farmers to Families Food Box (a program critics say costs way too much for what it delivers). Giving white, rich farmers money seems to be OK, but the idea of some people, Black, Chicano, and Latino getting funding directly to buy food has always seemed to have been a problem for white supremacists —also known as Republicans. 

How can I call Perdue a racist? You claim I don’t know what is in his heart! 

You are correct, I don’t know what is in his heart, but I do know he was a Dixiecrat (white racist Southerners who refused to be Republican owing to Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation—though vote Republican on any racist policy), and I know he regularly engages in tradition revisionist “Lost Cause” racist southern fantasy like when he said the following: 

“[M]any African-Americans both free and slave” voluntarily served in the Confederate armed forces.”

Voluntarily?!

WEB Du Bois in “Black Reconstruction” said that while Black people fought for the Confederacy they were forced and threatened with death if they did not. 

According to a 2017 Think Progress article by Josh Israel when Perdue was the governor of Georgia, he permanently made April “Confederate History and Heritage Month” and issued proclamations that honored “the more than 90,000 brave men and women who served the Confederate States of America.”

Perdue is a neo-confederate, anti-black racist, southern fried dixie asshole. 

People shouldn’t starve in some political game or ideology pissing contest —and that is exactly what is happening. These recent stories on food banks feed right into right-wing propaganda, because an overreliance on the food banks do make people starve. 

Food Stamps is more efficient and feeds more people, and it’s less degrading. Why should someone have to stand in line during a PANDEMIC for a BOX of food when they can be given a debit card, fill it with money for food, and shop at locations that are convenient for them?

The focus on educating the public on food bank shortages and how stealing is horrible rather than amplifying the importance of food stamps remaining a fully funded entitlement program and providing information on how to obtain Food Stamps is highly suspect.

Relying on food banks and food boxes and uplifting them as superior in any way is actually quite dangerous to Food Stamps. It is the nonprofit industrial complex at its worse because if you critique this, it looks like you’re bashing foodbanks, and wow —what kind of asshole would do that. 

I’m not an asshole. 

Foodbanks are helpful stopgap measures for cruel right-wing policies and harsh rhetoric that instills fear in the economically oppressed, but there is no reason that the problem of food insecurity in the US should morph into a literal hunger games scenario. 

Food banks aren’t obligated to feed everyone until there are no people left to feed —Food Stamps are.

Republicans have been trying to cut food stamps for years, and with Trump in office, they have been effective in making it harder to access. In October, a federal judge stopped a Trump-tainted USDA attempt to cut food stamps for 700,000 unemployed people who fall under the category of able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs)

Food Stamps is one of our most essential and effective entitlement programs.

Entitlement is a legal term meaning guarantee funding and more funding as needed, such as in an emergency like COVID-19.  It doesn’t mean Affluenza spoiled rich kids demanding another Porsche after driving their first spectacularly into a firework warehouse to a pyrotechnic end, it is the guarantee that the society will provide for all in times of need.

The USDA has 65 percent of its funding earmarked for fighting hunger through programs like Food Stamps and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). From day one of Purdue’s appointment, he has tried to implement cuts. Last year, Perdue proposed three rules— remove (ABAWDs), broad-based categorical eligibility —limit the types of non-cash for TANF (welfare) recipients,  standard utility allowance (methodology how your Food Stamp amount is calculated) —that would block access to Food Stamps, make it more difficult to obtain and administer the crucial benefits. If USDA had been allowed to implement those rules  3.7 million people would have been removed from Food Stamps.

Almost 4 million people would have gone hungry. 

Despite COVID-19 Perdue’s USDA, purposely took a punitive approach in providing access to Food Stamp benefits. Since Food Stamps is an entitlement program, it is flexible. It has the flexibility to provide as much funding as it needs to feed families so that they won’t go hungry. Anyone who qualified due to income or unemployment could be allowed access because of the Food Stamp funding entitlement mechanism. This is why Perdue’s actions were so malicious. Cruelty was the point. It wasn’t about the cost or the budget, just brutality against economically oppressed families in order to beat them into submission. 

Instead of providing benefits, Perdue enacted numerous horrific policies. He made sure that the children already getting food stamps were left out of additional aid. His department could have provided people with more upfront money to cut down on the frequency of grocery trips, but he did not do that. He added more bureaucracy and made accessing Food Stamp harder for recipients and people administering aid. 

He did all this just for cruelty’s sake, all while pushing Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

Socialism for rich white farmers and brutal capitalism for the rest of us. 

Food Stamps are like sending families a stipend to pay their rent.

Food Banks are like paying the motel owner a billion dollars and then have beneficiaries stand in a long line in the hot sun for hours for a place to sleep at night and then hoping there is room left when they get to the desk at the front of the line. 

Food banks exist for one reason, to provide corporate farm subsidies. Feeding the poor is a side effect. 

During Perdue’s time as USDA secretary, he instituted policies that enriched big agriculture and impoverished small farmers. The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement protested him at the second annual Iowa Agricultural Summit.

“The reality of large farmers using loopholes to get unlimited amounts of subsidies is that they bid up land values and cash rents that create a huge economic barrier for the next generation,” said Grassley, who owns a farm in Butler County that his son operates from the Des Moines Register.

Perdue changed the nutrition standards for food lunches allowing milk with added sugar, an increase in sodium, and more refined grains. 

Perdue has unabashedly turned the USDA into a partisan public agency. Under him, the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) was forced to put disclaimers on peer-reviewed publications stating that the findings were “preliminary” and “should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy” —so to not discredit any information that was disparaging to the USDA, Perdue, and Trump policy. 

While supporting the Trump re-election campaign, Perdue promoted the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. He was fined for violating the Hatch Act.

He did not mention Food Stamps. 

Hunger is increasing in the US, and we have a program, when implemented the way it was designed, is a powerful tool to right hunger, FOOD STAMPS. We can not ALLOW right-wing racists who want to starve our community by pushing their narrative of suffering builds character. Not all help is good help. Not every article should get an immediate send. 

The answer to the US’ hunger problem is a radical expansion of SNAP, inclusive of all people who live in the US, regardless of citizenship, age, or works status. If you meet the income requirements, you should be able to access food stamps easily. We have the mechanism for it, and we have the funding for it. 


Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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