Farm Progress

Well-fed political conventions overlook discussions about food production.

Paula Mohr, Editor, The Farmer

July 28, 2016

3 Min Read

I’ve watched portions of both the Republican and Democratic presidential conventions. The former was a downer with all its negativity; the latter was a candidate love-fest with all its pep talks.

Granted, I was limited to coverage provided by free TV. I watched the public television news channel since no other free stations covered them. I would have preferred to see more actual convention coverage than listen to the news broadcasters break in and regurgitate what those on the podium said and offer opinions on what was going on.

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I didn’t expect to hear any discussion about food production and both conventions did not disappoint. After all, we are a pretty well-fed nation. We do not worry about food availability. We can buy what we want when we want. In my lifetime, I have never seen people lined up outside of a grocery store to buy food. I have never been issued a ration booklet that limits my food purchases, either.

Yet, at some point between now and Nov. 8, the presidential candidates need to talk about agriculture. Why? Because we eat. And we take it ever-so for granted.

Checking out their websites, the candidates’ positions on issues impacting U.S. food production vary in content.

Hillary Clinton says she will increase funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers in local food markets and regional food systems; she’ll create a safety net to help family farms get through tough times; and she will push for renewable energy and strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard.

She takes a position on climate change, which directly impacts crops and livestock. She says she will work to fully fund the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and ask the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a “one stop shop” to help farmers and ranchers identify programs that will support their conservation practices. She also takes positions that are favorable to farmers in areas of investing in public infrastructure (roads, bridges, water systems) and immigration reform.

One area of concern for me is her push for animal rights. According to her website, “As U.S. senator from New York, Hillary spearheaded efforts to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from buying chickens for the federal school lunch program that have been injected with therapeutic antibiotics. She pushed for stricter FDA review of animal drugs, co-sponsored legislation to protect animal rights and prohibit animal fighting, and earned a perfect score from The Humane Society Legislative Fund.”

I don’t know when she pushed for drug-free chickens. All chicken is “antibiotic-free” in the sense that no antibiotic residues are present in the meat due to the withdrawal periods required by the government and observed by food companies.

Donald Trump has limited his position statements on his website to a handful of issues, such as renegotiating trade with China (declare China a currency manipulator, end export subsidies, end intellectual property theft), tax reform (which includes eliminating the death tax) and immigration reform (building a wall between Mexico and the U.S., increase immigrant law enforcement).

He didn’t offer any discussion on issues closer to the farm gate on his website.

Whatever your political stance, I hope you agree that we need to hear discussion on U.S. food production and food policy from the presidential candidates--from investments in university research to market access here and abroad.

About the Author(s)

Paula Mohr

Editor, The Farmer

Mohr is former editor of The Farmer.

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