Throughout the primaries, conventions, and now leading up to the general election, we have heard a lot about the presidential candidates. We’ve heard a lot about emails, national security, character traits, and a host of other topics. But not nearly enough about food and farming.
As the HEAL Alliance explains:
Our food system is controlled by a handful of powerful corporations that wield undue influence over the system. They support policies that benefit their bottom line and squeeze out local and regional farms and food businesses. And because food touches every aspect of our lives, these corporations exert influence on a wide range of health, environmental, agricultural, trade, and labor policies –and on the politicians who draft them.
The next President of the United States will oversee a new Farm Bill, the legislation that sets significant portions of our domestic food policy including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), conservation programs, and farm subsidies. Current subsidy programs favor large-scale growers of commodities like corn and soybeans. It is essential that we shift more financial resources to small-scale regenerative farmers who grow food that is healthy for people and the environment.
The next President will also need to address the climate crisis. Industrial agriculture (the type reinforced by the current Farm Bill as well as trade policies like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership) is a top contributor of climate changing emissions. But farmers who practice agro-ecology have the potential to sequester carbon, mitigating climate change rather than contributing to it.
For these reasons, among others, we need the candidates to prioritize food policy.
That is why a coalition, including the HEAL Alliance cited above, is calling for the next President to prioritize food policy and take steps to transform our system.
The President’s role in setting priorities for the nation cannot be underestimated. But action at all levels of government are important. Here are a few other opportunities to take action:
- Tell your governor to be a fair trade leader, enacting state purchasing policies that prioritize food that is healthy for people and planet.
- Tell Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, putting more money in the hands of low-wage workers and empowering them to access more healthy and sustainable foods that are currently largely out of their reach.
Posted on August 23rd 2016