Agricultural subsidies aren’t key to food security, redux

Oh boy, here comes the “agricultural subsidies enhance national security” argument again:

“I would hate to think of a day where the United States of America becomes hostage to other countries (that export food to the U.S.), in a way that we are held hostage over our energy needs,” [Senator Ken] Salazar said.

I think Sallie James’ interpretation of the statement is unfair, however:

I know of only two other countries that pursue a policy of total self-sufficiency in food(which seems to be what the senator is advocating): North Korea and Zimbabwe.

I think the actual position taken by advocates of “food security” is that the United States should not be so “dependent” upon imports as to lose significant bargaining power. Whether that means that imports should be less than xx% of total consumption or that the domestic production capacity should be able to provide all domestic consumers with minimal nutrition within xx months’ notice, I don’t know. But it doesn’t imply agricultural autarky, per se.

Nonetheless, I’ve argued against such justifications for ag subsidies. America will not become “dependent” upon agricultural imports if it liberalizes.