corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, cotton, rice, peanuts, soybeans, dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas. The payment mechanism most similar to an agricultural subsidy is the countercyclical payment in which farmers receive the difference between the crop’s target price and the current commodity price. It has been suggested that the list of commodities could be expanded to include fresh fruits and vegetables to encourage production of these commodities and thus reduce prices paid by consumers. The expected result is that lower prices for subsidized fruits and vegetables would encourage consumers to substitute fruits and vegetables for higher-sodium foods.
Without a great deal of further study, it is uncertain whether any reasonable level of subsidization of fruits and vegetables would cause consumers to alter their diets sufficiently to result in a lower total intake of sodium. Extension of the current Farm Act provisions to fruits and vegetables would involve development of a costly government infrastructure for administering the program, including determining target prices that take into account the differences in production practices across the country as well as enrolling a large number of additional farms. Also, agricultural subsidy programs can cause unfavorable market distortions and raise international trade issues. Thus, although subsidization of fruits and vegetables could potentially provide some benefit in encouraging an overall increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables, the benefits in terms of reducing sodium intake would likely not justify the costs of implementing such a strategy.
Income tax incentives are, in some cases, provided by the federal or state governments to encourage production of certain products by manufacturers. For example, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 extended production tax credits and investment tax credits for the production of renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels). It has been suggested that income tax incentives could be provided to food manufacturers for producing lower-sodium processed foods and to restaurant/foodservice operators for providing lower-sodium menu items. The tax credits would need to be tied to the volume of lower-sodium foods sold to ensure that products are offered for sale and consumers are purchasing the products in sufficient volume to have an appreciable effect on sodium intake. The expected result of the tax incentives is that more food manufacturers and restaurant/foodservice operators would provide lower-sodium foods and also would provide a broader range of lower-sodium foods at potentially lower prices.
Recommending tax incentives for the production of lower-sodium foods would not necessarily result in the desired outcome of lower sodium intake. Food manufacturers and restaurant/foodservice operators would weigh