November 18, 2011

Visualizer Shows Farm Bill Spending

Center for a Livable Future

Center for a Livable Future

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future has launched the Farm Bill Budget Visualizer, an innovative web-based application that allows visual analysis of Farm Bill spending since the 2008 Farm Bill.

The Budget Visualizer uses “treemap” technology, a method of displaying spending data as nested rectangles, which allows users to “see” the proportion of federal funding received by Farm Bill programs. The application, developed in partnership with the Hive Group, is intended as an educational aid for the general public, advocacy groups, and policymakers who wish to better understand the relationships among public health and other priorities, and federal spending in the Farm Bill. Read the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s news release announcing the Farm Bill Budget Visualizer.

To learn how to use the Budget Visualizer, read Linnea Laestadius’s blogpost about Endangered Programs in the Farm Bill. Forthcoming are posts will demonstrate other uses of the Visualizer.

Food and Tech Connect included the Visualizer in a list of 6 applications that can answer the question, “How can the food+tech community come together to encourage people to be involved?” PorkNetwork.com announced the Visualizer’s release as well.

One Comment

  1. What’s not visualized is that the biggest historical impact of the Farm Bill, in the Commodity Title, is market market management, or the lack thereof. For example, for corn, historically, farm subsidies add up to about $200 billion (since 1961 when corn subsidies started). That makes it look like the farm bill helped corn, as Pollan always says. But corn is a pauper in the farm bill, not at all “King Corn,” as the full data shows. We find then that (assuming an extra 10% overall reduction in corn acreage for supply management, as in earlier programs), corn price floors were lowered resulting in a reduction in corn income of about $1.3 trillion, for a net reduction (including subsidies) of more than $1 trillion. The Visualizer only shows the compensations for reductions, misleading city people into believing that corn, etc. farmers are net gainers from the farm bill, instead of net losers. This hidden data also has huge global implicatons. Thousands of farmers went to hearings and then more than 1000 to the resulting United Farmer and Rancher Congress funded by Farm Aid in 1986. Back then these facts dominated the movement. That was pre-internet. Today, farm justice is forgotten, and food justice people are pro-agribusiness, unknowingly, without this extra data, and they are big on blaming farmers.

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