While doing research on the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012– better known as the fiscal cliff deal– I came across a curious piece of funding for Stockton’s patron vegetable: asparagus. According to NBC News, the fiscal cliff deal includes “A tax break worth about $15 million a year for asparagus growers hit hard by cheap asparagus imported from Peru.”
This “bailout” highlights the issue of asparagus growers being undercut by cheaper asparagus from Latin America. However, despite being described as “pork” by many media outlets, this program is not new. The Asparagus Revenue Market Loss Assistance Payment (ALAP) Program has been in place for the last two farm bills dating back about 10 years. Fiscal cliff legislation simply extends the program while a new farm bill is negotiated in the next Congress.
Aside from the fiscal cliff, asparagus is also making headlines for it’s potential to sooth hangovers. According to Korean researchers, the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus may help the body metabolize alcohol at a quicker rate, which can in theory help one recover faster from excessive drinking. Maybe that extra drink or two at the Asparagus Festival is not such a bad idea after all.