The journal Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy (AEPP) just published a paper I wrote critically evaluating the policy positions advocated in a series of articles by Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador, and Olivier De Schutter (see here, here, and here). If you don't want to read the paper, I also recorded a podcast with AEPP editor Craig Gundersen, where we talked about a few of the high points.
Debate about the next Farm Bill is already beginning, and I suspect many people in the agricultural community would argue that the so-called food-movement should be ignored because it does not seem to have much effect on farm policy. I'd argue that view is short sighted. First, the population dynamics have change dramatically over the past half century, giving more power to the food consumer. Second, the larger size and more integrated nature of farms today is likely to make them less sympathetic as recipients of subsidies than has been the case in the past. And, as I outline in the paper, evidence of the shift is beginning to emerge.
I won't summarize the whole paper here, but the main purpose is to try to bring the food and agricultural economics profession into this debate. My own view is that Bittman et al. offer no consistent, underlying philosophical basis for when the federal government should (and should not) intervene and that they misjudge the trajectory of health, environmental, and productivity changes in food and agriculture and thus overstate the urgency and scope for intervention. More specifically, I would argue that many of their specific proposals are unlikely to pass a cost benefit test.
Here is part of the concluding paragraph from the piece.