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"More children are getting fat from cheap junk foods whose key ingredients are subsidized by millions of dollars in taxes paid by residents in Arizona and across the country, the Arizona Public Interest Research Group alleged Wednesday.
Arizona PIRG advocate Serena Unrein released the report to Phoenix reporters while standing with Cindy Gentry at her natural-food store, Downtown Phoenix Public Market, and with Maya Dailey, Phoenix-area natural-foods grower.
Unrein claimed Phoenix-area residents paid about $5 million in taxes over 15 years that she believes were used to subsidize the production of sweeteners, starches, oil and syrups found in many sweet and fatty junk foods.
Under the 2008 farm bill approved by Congress, farmers are eligible for subsidies that help them reduce their costs of production for several types of crops: barley, corn, soybean, grain sorghum, oats, peanuts, rice, wheat and upland cotton. Some oil-producing seed crops - such as canola, safflower, sunflower and sesame - also are subsidized.
PIRG contends that from 1995 to 2010, U.S. taxpayers paid $260 billion for the subsidies, which lower farmers' costs of growing those crops.
"At a time when childhood obesity rates are skyrocketing in Arizona, it's absurd that we're spending billions of taxpayer dollars to make the problem worse," Unrein said."
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