The Next President: Who Will Best Serve the Food Industry?

Articles
October 31, 2008

The Next President: Who Will Best Serve the Food Industry?

The focus during these last few days of the Presidential campaign has rightly been on the economy, taxes, and energy, and all three impact the topic so vital to our own physical health and well-being: food. That includes how and where food is grown both at home and imported from abroad; the cost of fuel to transport those foods shipped from farm to plant to grocer; energy choices and possible tax credits for the farmer; inspections and safety; availability of food stamps; government pricing, and other issues. While neither candidate, nor his party, has made an issue of contaminated foods, Barack Obama did discuss the need to better regulate the factory farms contributing to outbreaks of E. coli-tainted beef. ON WORLD WIDE & LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION Neither candidate completely tackles such issues as globilization of food production, world wide hunger and/or food crisis, or how their economic policies would address the current state of rising food prices for the end-use consumer, the crunching credit morass and the farmer, or the shortening of the food supply chain here at home (limiting time and distance between farmer and consumer.) Although shop-local themes, encouragement of consumers to patronize local farmers markets, and other slow food issues are gaining in popularity across the country, neither candidate has included any of these issues in their remarks in any noticeable way.

The focus during these last few days of the Presidential campaign has rightly been on the economy, taxes, and energy, and all three impact the topic so vital to our own physical health and well-being: food. That includes how and where food is grown both at home and imported from abroad; the cost of fuel to transport those foods shipped from farm to plant to grocer; energy choices and possible tax credits for the farmer; inspections and safety; availability of food stamps; government pricing, and other issues.

While neither candidate, nor his party, has made an issue of contaminated foods, Barack  Obama did discuss the need to better regulate the factory farms contributing to outbreaks of E. coli-tainted beef.

ON WORLD WIDE & LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION

Neither candidate completely tackles such issues as globilization of food production, world wide hunger and/or food crisis, or how their economic policies would address the current state of rising food prices for the end-use consumer, the crunching credit morass and the farmer, or the shortening of the food supply chain here at home (limiting time and distance between farmer and consumer.) Although shop-local themes, encouragement of consumers to patronize local farmers markets, and other slow food issues are gaining in popularity across the country, neither candidate has included any of these issues in their remarks in any noticeable way.

WHAT THEIR WEB SITES SAY

We reviewed the web sites of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and examined other media to discover how each candidate stands on the issues we believe impact food supply and distribution the most, including how each voted on bills during the last few years on farming, food safety, and related issues. Neither Sens. McCain nor Obama has an enviable voting record during 2008 because of the demands of the campaign.

The issues on both candidates' web sites are striking because there is little mention of food, farming or agriculture on McCain's site, and Obama provides a lengthy plan for the farmer. McCain has been a steady opponent of farm subsidies although he has supported funds for nutrition, food stamps and other such issues when added to farm bills. However, McCain does support deregulation of the agriculture industry and supports free trade of agriculture exports.

As for comments on the Obama web site regarding farming and food, he supports the implementation of the Country of Origin Labeling law so that American producers can distinguish their products from imported ones and will help organic farmers afford to certify their crops and reform crop insurance to not penalize organic farmers. He supports a new program to identify and train the next generation of farmers and provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm and will increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests. Obama says he will also increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests. He co-sponsored the Emergency Farm Relief Act (2006) to make grants to state agriculture departments for direct economic loss payments to eligible small businesses.