NYT: When Will Food Issues Be on Politicians’ Plates?

The place where food and family intersect is ripe for developing a strong block of food voters, especially in swing states, pollsters said. The organic-milk mom could be the new bipartisan soccer mom. With Walmart selling organic produce, farmers’ markets in nearly every community and McDonald’s promoting a new less-is-more ingredient philosophy the line is growing faint between what were once considered latte-drinking liberals and red-state beer buyers.


”Millennial voters are more articulate about food issues than any generation before, and less apt to be loyal to any one political party. And food is one of the few issues in which lawmakers from different parties can find common ground,” Mr. Massie said.

I might suggest the level of success we see in getting food and farming issues into electoral politics will be directly linked to how organizations and producers use their bully pulpit to get elected officials (including candidates) to their markets, gardens and farms.

To assist with that, Farmers Market Coalition is offering an updated Advocacy Kit this summer which already contains excellent tips on how to bond with one’s legislators, including how to invite your legislators to your site.

So what are YOU doing for National Farmers Market Week?

NYT article

Plant-Based Foods Go To Washington

… with the launch today (March 7) of the Plant Based Foods Association, a new collective voice is set to join the fray. Organized by its executive director, food and public health attorney Michele Simon, the group’s goals will be similar to those of its animal-based counterparts: public education, media outreach, and lobbying—only in this case it will seek to change the policies that put eggs, meat, and dairy front and center.

“The deck is stacked against plant-based foods because they cost more and people can’t find them,” Simon told Quartz. The new association, she says, is aimed at “leveling the playing field.” To do that, the organization will educate retailers and foodservice companies about these products, Simon says, and it has hired Elizabeth Kucinich, who previously served as policy director at the Center for Food Safety and as director of government affairs at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, to represent the group in Washington as its policy and partnerships consultant. (Kucinich is the wife of ex-congressman and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, and she helped form the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association.)

You may  know Michele as the author of the excellent report: Food Stamps: Follow the Money, and the book Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back and as president of Eat Drink Politics, a watchdog consulting group.


This is going to be helpful to food advocates to have this focus  in D.C.



FMC Supports the 2014 Farm Bill | Farmers Market Coalition


Food & Farm Bill of Rights

This came up on a listserve today. Thankfully by opening that email I was reminded of this page’s existence and reassured by the possibility of a stray elected official doing something right for all Americans.

Food & Farm Bill of Rights | Congressman Earl Blumenauer.

The Farm Bill Deserved to Fail

“By rejecting reforms and doubling down on mean-spirited cuts in nutrition and the SNAP program, a critical mass of people across the political spectrum couldn’t stomach this bill. The result was a strong ‘no’ vote, leadership looking embarrassed, and the House in disarray.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, U.S. Representative from Oregon

Food First

Well done critique of the food politics that we currently live and die with. Yes instead of encouraging “fencerow to fencerow” agriculture (even for seemingly well meaning reasons), we need to assess our true needs and grow the proper food accordingly and grow it well with less inputs and environmental destruction in every succeeding generation. And instead of running into each other over middling legislative issues, we need a movement of big ideas like food sovereignty and human rights to push fairness for all that allows everyone to chime in as needed and to allow us to move past crisis campaigning. When, for example, will the US food organizers work side by side with the rest of the world’s organizers? When will we embrace true import-replacement strategies? When will all pieces of the food chain be valued?

Farm Bill Fiasco: What is Next for the Food Movement?”, a Food First Spring Backgrounder

By Christopher Cook
Deciding how America will nourish itself and sustain its farms would seem a top policy priority— yet as the US Farm Bill demonstrates, sustainably grown, healthy food and livable incomes for farmers and workers remain an afterthought in a process controlled almost entirely by agribusiness and a handful of farm-state legislators. Despite strong public opinion supporting local food, farmer’s markets, organic agriculture, food workers’ rights and access to fresh produce, agribusiness and commodity interests continue to dominate food and farming policy.

That’s largely due to their prodigious lobbying clout: agribusiness spent $137 million last year muscling Congress to do its bidding and another $46.6 million on federal candidates (about 60 percent Republican) in 2010. This phalanx of power includes commodity producer groups like the American Corn Growers Association; corporate food processors and purveyors such as Kraft and Dean Foods; the Farm Bureau; dairy and meat industry giants; and seed and petrochemical corporations like Monsanto.
On the other side, armed with ideas and passion but little money, stand hundreds of groups from across the US pressing Congress on an array of policies—including commodity subsidy reform, fair prices for farmers, public monies for local foods and small farmers, and conservation and nutrition funding. With a handful of lobbyists and diverse interests, they fight doggedly for small wedges of the Farm Bill pie.

But is the Farm Bill a productive venue for food movements to make meaningful change in food and farming policy?

read more