Thursday, June 19, 2008

One thing

leads to another

"Forty years ago, Haiti was self-sufficient in rice. Now it imports most of its rice from the United States – all of it heavily subsidized by the U.S. government. Many families, in desperation, risked death to cross 258 kilometres of ocean, often in rickety boats, to get to Miami, the port that gives American rice its Haitian nickname – “Miami Rice.” From a country with a population of eight million, as many as two million Haitians now live in the U.S. In this tragic saga, though, it's not enough that the U.S. subsidizes rice production, making it half as expensive as Haitian rice used to cost. Now the Haitian government will subsidize American rice again, using meagre state funds to reduce the retail price by 16 per cent. It will also impose controls on the retail price. The price controls will inevitably reduce the supply. Haiti's rice crisis will almost certainly worsen."

Rice is the big crop around here. From Glenn County to Sacramento, it's rice fields everywhere. And all subsidized. It's a standing joke around here, the stories of the 'poor rice farmer' who has to drive last years pickup.

Not a joke; Haitians will sometimes bake clay and eat it, just to fill their stomachs.

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