What do each of the 2008 presidential candidates have to say about food, agriculture, organics, sustainable farming and other key issues in today's food economy? We can hardly give an in-depth analysis of each candidate's position here, but we're sketching out a broad look at each candidate today in honor of Presidents' Day.
Like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama cast no vote on the Farm Bill last year, which may have been playing it safe in a decision that could have hurt him equally with Iowa's big agribusiness and the small farmers of America. Obama has, however, a more articulated set of positions on the environment than we've seen with the other candidates... He also has a well-articulated plan on rural issues that affect local family farms, including these points below - all quoted directly from his website.
• Obama will fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability. Obama will implement a $250,000 payment limitation so that we help family farmers - not large corporate agribusiness. Obama will close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around the limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper corporations.
Comparison: This payment limitation is close the original proposal that was struck out of last year's Farm Bill.
• Prevent Anticompetitive Behavior Against Family Farms: Obama is a strong supporter of a packer ban. When meatpackers own livestock they can manipulate prices and discriminate against independent farmers. Obama will strengthen anti-monopoly laws and strengthen producer protections to ensure independent farmers have fair access to markets, control over their production decisions, and transparency in prices.
Comparison: Clinton also supports a packer ban.
• Regulate CAFOs: Obama's Environmental Protection Agency will strictly regulate pollution from large CAFOs, with fines for those that violate tough standards. Obama also supports meaningful local control.
• Establish Country of Origin Labeling: Obama supports immediate implementation of the Country of Origin Labeling law so that American producers can distinguish their products from imported ones.
• Encourage Organic and Local Agriculture: Obama will help organic farmers afford to certify their crops and reform crop insurance to not penalize organic farmers. He also will promote regional food systems.
• Partner with Landowners to Conserve Private Lands: Obama will increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests.
His policy on organic farming is encouraging to us, as we know that many small farms cannot afford the lengthy and complicated organic certification process.
UPDATE: Also, we just noticed that Obama released an official statement on this past weekend's huge beef recall.
Do you have other info on Obama's stance on food-related issues - or any of the candidates' relationship to food issues? Comment away!