News Release

RIPIRG Builds Statewide Support to Stop Congress from Subsidizing Big Agribusinesses and Unhealthy Foods

For Immediate Release

The Rhode Island Public Interest Research Group (RIPIRG) spent the summer speaking with thousands of Rhode Islanders about the need to end government subsidies that go toward the production of junk food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup.  Throughout the state, from Providence to Narragansett and Warwick to Newport, we found support among residents for ending this wasteful use of our tax dollars.

In July, RIPIRG released a new report entitled Apples to Twinkies 2012: Comparing Taxpayer Subsidies for Fresh Produce and Junk Food. The research revealed that since 1995, federal subsidies to junk food ingredients amount to over $18 billion.  The report describes the disparity in subsidies that go to growing crops for processing like corn and soy as opposed to those that go to fresh produce.

“The current farm subsidy program benefits the largest agribusinesses and concentrates on crops that are processed into junk food ingredients, contributing to our nation’s growing childhood obesity epidemic,” says Ryan Pierannunzi, RIPIRG associate.  “From both a fiscal and public health perspective, subsidies to big agribusinesses have got to go.”

Apples to Twinkies 2012 was released at the Hope Street Farmers’ Market, where Mr. Pierannunzi was joined by Sylvia Weber, of the Rhode Island State Nurses Association, and Skip Paul, a small farmer from Little Compton, who discussed how the current subsidy programs affect public health and impact independent small farmers.

Over the course of the summer, we collected over 2,500 petitions from Rhode Islanders, urging Congress to stop subsidizing junk food ingredients.  We hand-delivered these petitions to the offices of U.S. Representatives Cicilline and Langevin.

“We are calling on Rhode Island’s Congressmen to take the lead in fighting for a Farm Bill free from handouts to big agribusinesses,” said Pierannunzi.

The report is available here.

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