Stop Subsidizing Obesity

OUR TAX DOLLARS HELP FUEL OBESITY EPIDEMIC—Since 1995, $18 billion has been given away in subsidies to Big Agribusinesses, this money gets used to produce common junk food ingredients, like high-fructose corn syrup. These giveaways are all the more absurd at a time when one-in-three kids is overweight or obese.

PUT JUNK FOOD SUBSIDIES ON A DIET

Almost anything you can think of would be a better use of our tax dollars than subsidizing the ingredients in junk food, but every year more than a billion taxpayer dollars do just that. Huge, profitable corporations, like Cargill and Monsanto, have pocketed $18 billion in the last 16 years and turned subsidized crops into junk food ingredients — including high fructose corn syrup.

These taxpayer giveaways are all the more absurd at a time when one-in-three kids is overweight or obese, and obesity-related diseases like diabetes are turning into an epidemic.

Many of these wasteful subsidies are set to expire this year, but industry lobbyists are urging Congress to keep them. In 2008 alone, big agribusinesses spent $200 million on lobbying and campaign contributions.

No one in Congress wants to be seen standing up for taxpayer giveaways to junk food. Cutting wasteful spending while attacking childhood obesity could be the perfect storm we need to push past the junk food industry.

Obesity Quick Facts:

  • High-fructose diets impair learning and memory.
  • For each additional can of soda drunk daily, the odds of a child becoming obese increases by about 60%.
  • Childhood obesity has quadrupled in the last 40 years.
  • Drinking one or two sugary drinks per day increases the risk for type 2 diabetes by 25%.
  • Once an adult problem, diabetes associated with obesity is increasing among children.

Issue updates

News Release | OSPIRG | Food

New Farm Bill Contains Massive Taxpayer Handouts To Big Ag

Statement of OSPIRG Federal Tax and Budget Advocate Dan Smith on the Farm Bill Conference Committee agreement to be voted on by the House this week:

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Food

Food Safety Scares 2013

An alarming number of Oregonians continue to fall ill from preventable foodborne illness in 2013, almost 3 years after the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Food

Major Setback for Taxpayer Handouts to Big Ag | David Rosenfeld

The U.S. House of Representatives voted down the Farm Bill this morning, and I'm darn glad they did. 

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

Revealing Tax Subsidies 2013

OSPIRG Foundation's new study examines the first two years of annual reports made available by the law on the Oregon Transparency Website. It evaluates how well the law is being followed, and the degree to which the new information helps the public determine the value of these programs.

> Keep Reading
Result | Budget, Tax

OSPIRG Brings Transparency to Major Tax Subsidy

After OSPIRG filed a petition for public records order, the Oregon Department of Justice ordered Business Oregon, the state's business development department, to release data about the Strategic Investment Program--a major tax subsidy program estimated to cost Oregon taxpayers $322 million over the next two years, stating that there is a “strong public interest” in disclosing the information.

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | OSPIRG | Food

New Farm Bill Contains Massive Taxpayer Handouts To Big Ag

Statement of OSPIRG Federal Tax and Budget Advocate Dan Smith on the Farm Bill Conference Committee agreement to be voted on by the House this week:

> Keep Reading
News Release | OSPIRG | Budget, Tax

Department of Justice Orders Release of Hidden Tax Subsidy Data, Clarifies Public Has Right to Know How Subsidy Dollars are Spent

Yesterday, the Oregon Department of Justice ordered a state agency to release data about a major tax subsidy program estimated to cost Oregon taxpayers $322 million over the next two years, saying that there is a “strong public interest” in disclosing the information.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Food

Senate Passed Farm Bill Includes Wyden Amendments

Portland-based consumer advocacy group, OSPIRG panned the bill. 

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Food

Farm Bill swaps one wasteful tax subsidy for another

The measure is called the Farm Bill, and it is a classic example of a good idea hijacked by special interests.

> Keep Reading
Media Hit | Budget

Oregon gets B+ for government transparency

Oregon earned a B+ in an annual report that reviews the level of transparency in government spending.

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Pages

Result | Budget, Tax

OSPIRG Brings Transparency to Major Tax Subsidy

After OSPIRG filed a petition for public records order, the Oregon Department of Justice ordered Business Oregon, the state's business development department, to release data about the Strategic Investment Program--a major tax subsidy program estimated to cost Oregon taxpayers $322 million over the next two years, stating that there is a “strong public interest” in disclosing the information.

> Keep Reading
Result | Budget, Tax

MAKING GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PUBLIC

This year, the Oregon Legislature passed a groundbreaking new law in 2011 that will allow the public to see exactly which companies are receiving tax subsidies and what taxpayers get in return.

> Keep Reading
Result | Budget, Democracy, Tax

Google Government Coming to Oregon

The Oregon Legislature gave final approval to HB 2500 this morning, which sets up a one-stop website for taxpayer spending.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Food

Food Safety Scares 2013

An alarming number of Oregonians continue to fall ill from preventable foodborne illness in 2013, almost 3 years after the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act. 

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

Revealing Tax Subsidies 2013

OSPIRG Foundation's new study examines the first two years of annual reports made available by the law on the Oregon Transparency Website. It evaluates how well the law is being followed, and the degree to which the new information helps the public determine the value of these programs.

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Food

Apples to Twinkies 2012

In this report, we find that in 2011, over $1.28 billion in taxpayer subsidies went to junk food ingredients, bringing the total to a staggering $18.2 billion since 1995. To put that figure in perspective, $18.2 billion is enough to buy 2.9 billion Twinkies every year - 21 for every single American taxpayer. 

> Keep Reading
Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Budget

Following the Money 2012

This report is OSPIRG Foundation’s third annual ranking of states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility. The past year has seen continued progress, with new states providing online access to government spending information and several states pioneering new tools to further expand citizens’ access to spending information and engagement with government.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

Revealing Tax Subsidies

Last year, Oregon took an important first step towards showing the public whether the hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent on corporate economic development tax subsidies are worth the money. House Bill 2825 went into effect at the close of 2011, requiring disclosure of twelve corporate tax subsidy programs estimated to cost taxpayers nearly $530 million in the 2011-2013 biennium.

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Pages

Blog Post | Food

Major Setback for Taxpayer Handouts to Big Ag | David Rosenfeld

The U.S. House of Representatives voted down the Farm Bill this morning, and I'm darn glad they did. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Food

Farm Bill is a giveaway to Big Ag | David Rosenfeld

Disappointingly, the U.S. Senate passed a version of the Farm Bill today that continues to send billions of tax dollars to giant agribusinesses. It is now up to our House representatives to ensure that real reform happens.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Food

2.8 billion Twinkies is a lot of Twinkies | David Rosenfeld

We’ve already documented that at least $1 billion in taxpayer dollars directly subsidize the production of junk food ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oils that are the main ingredients in Twinkies, soda and other junk food products. If you spent all that money on Twinkies, it would be enough to buy about 2.8 billion of those golden colored sweets (at the estimated wholesale rate of 36 cents per Twinkie), or about 19 Twinkies per taxpayer. But the fun math doesn’t need to stop there, especially when we’re talking 2.8 billion Twinkies.

 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Budget, Democracy, Tax

Starting to see a bit more clearly | David Rosenfeld

The state transparency website is being updated this week. There are improvements that can be made, including the posting tax subsidy information. Let us know your suggested improvements.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Budget, Tax

Google Government Coming to Oregon | David Rosenfeld

The Oregon Legislature gave final approval to HB 2500 this morning, which sets up a one-stop website for taxpayer spending.

> Keep Reading
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You Can Help

We have a chance to cut billions in junk food subsidies this year. Your support will help us do the research, advocacy and grassroots organizing to convince our elected officials to act.

PRIORITY ACTION

Each year, our tax dollars pay for enough junk food additives to buy 8.5 two-liter bottles of soda for each person under 18. Help stop the subsidies for junk food.

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