The Changes to the Food World Under the New Administration

The Lempert Report
February 01, 2021

Kim Severson of the NY Times wrote a great column last Tuesday about how, under Joe Biden, the food world has already changed – and what other changes are about to come

Here’s what has happened so far. Fix the rules for raising organic livestock. A reversal of the department’s track record with Black farmers. Restoring school food standards and strengthen G.M.O. labels. Prioritize the climate crisis. There was even a suggestion to change the name of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the Department of Food and Well-Being. The Biden team is also reaching out to food leaders – real food leaders – not just those that have huge social media followers or paid influencers. Two of those voices are our friends: Michel Nischan who birthed the idea to double the value of food stamps for fruits and vegetables. Sam Kass, who I worked on the Chefs Move to Schools Program when he was at the White House. Both who will give great advice and intelligent ideas. Biden also appointed Tom Vilsack, who was agriculture secretary in the Obama administration and is likely to be confirmed by the Senate for another turn, told Severson that he has already sketched out his agenda. “There are probably five very, very large challenges ahead that have to be dealt with very quickly,” he said. Topping the list is protecting Agriculture Department employees and people who process the nation’s food from the virus, and figuring out which land-grant universities, government laboratories and other department offices might be able to store and administer vaccines. In addition, hunger relief, promoting social justice and fighting climate change. The Agriculture Department, has a budget of $153 billion and nearly 100,000 employees, it runs 29 agencies and offices whose jobs range from feeding the poorest Americans and regulating what public schoolchildren eat to managing forests and helping farmers sell commodities like soybeans abroad. On Friday January 22, President Biden signed an executive order that would increase both the amount of federal food assistance for about 12 million people who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (also known as food stamps), and the grocery money given to families with school-age children. He has also included more money for food stamps and other federal feeding programs in his proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package. Change is on the way!