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WASHINGTON—Days after the accidental passage of a bill allocating $30 trillion in federal subsidies to soybean producers, a massive tide of the protein-rich legumes has flooded the nation, crippling transportation networks, commerce, and public utilities, and profoundly disrupting American life.Econ 10: it's all about incentives.
"Soybeans are everywhere," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday, noting that all 406 million acres of arable land in the United States have been converted to soybean cultivation as farmers sought a share of funds worth more than twice the gross domestic product. "Many citizens have shoveled out their driveways only to find that schools and businesses have been shut down. Millions more remain trapped indoors as windblown soybean drifts cover entire houses."
"For most, simply getting to the grocery store has become impossible," Vilsack continued. "Not that grocery stores have much in them besides soybeans at this point."
According to sources within the House Appropriations Committee, a misplaced decimal point deep inside the 279-page Farm Relief and Reform Act of 2010 increased the soy subsidy by roughly 1.75 million percent, precipitating the nationwide glut.
Damage from the continent-spanning blanket of soybeans—which ranges in depth from five feet in the nation's heartland to six inches along the coasts and in Hawaii—has been severe. All major metropolitan areas are reporting clogged sewers and streets; several counties in Nebraska have become invisible beneath towers of soybeans; and a dense patch in the Gulf states has begun fermenting into a thick, pungent soy sauce....MORE