The Eat with Care blog

Writing about humane farming issues by Caroline Abels, founder of Humaneitarian. Your comments and feedback welcome. (All replies are screened and posted, if thoughtful and respectful.)

Candidates! Address our local food concerns

February 26, 2016

Sheep grazing outside the White House during the Woodrow Wilson presidency

Sheep grazing outside the White House during the Woodrow Wilson presidency

A popular post on Humaneitarian’s Facebook page is proving that people have serious questions for the presidential candidates about how they would support our local farms — including the farms that provide our nation’s most humanely raised meat.

I asked Facebook followers what question they would pose to a presidential candidate (of either party) if allowed one food-related query. The answers were varied, and kicked off with Humaneitarian’s question:

  • “Why are small farms forced to compete unfairly with heavily subsidized corporate farms? When you are president, will you extend subsidies to small farms, so that these farms can compete fairly in the marketplace?”

To this, Alan replied:

  • Or would you remove ALL subsidies and allow us to compete on a level playing field.”

And Marcus echoed that:

  • “I’m not looking for subsidies. I just wish selling to the public was not regulated to the point of almost impossible.”

This inspired a few comments from (presumably) farmers who are frustrated by government regulations:

  • Leslie (replying to Marcus): “Can I give this 1000 likes? Just stop the crazy over-regulation and let me work with customers directly. I don’t need no stinking subsidies!”
  • And Emily chimed in: “Totally agree! Remove the shackles of government rules & let me make a living from my farm!

Then Linda brought it back to the subject of subsidies:

  • “Give subsidies to companies who use humaneitarian standards for raising livestock. Keep raising awareness of how animal abuse is the norm and not the exception. More people would be outraged if they knew what is going on with the animals before their steak is laid beautifully on their plate.”

cost of hamburgerHere are just a few more interesting comments:

  • Janet: “How can we best address food insecurity for our most needy citizens by helping them procure high quality locally and humanely raised food?
  • Joyce: “Can food products be labeled as to what country produced the food items we buy?
  • Matthew: “Why do other countries have to prove their food safe before making it available to the public and here it has to be proven unsafe before taken off the shelves?”
  • Joe: “Have you spent time working within the food system(s) of which you are critical?
  • Carla: “What are you going to do to support sustainable, organic farming practices and local food growers?

And Jenn noted the loyalty of one candidate to agricultural issues:

  • Regardless of whether one likes or does not like Bernie Sanders’ stance on a variety of issues, I will say this: he has excellent staff who pay a lot of attention to local, sustainable, and organic foods. Despite the fact that he does not serve on an agricultural committee, it’s *his* staff who attend meetings around Vermont and keep other legislators updated on ag issues. I can’t speak about the other Presidential candidates’ knowledge of local foods (and I DO think it should be part of the discussion!), but I have always appreciated that a federal legislator from an agricultural state pays attention to ag, even when he’s not required by committee assignment to do so.”

(For the record, only one presidential candidate — Bernie Sanders — has a page on their campaign website devoted to animal welfare issues – see it here. Only Sanders, Rubio, and Carson have a page outlining their food and ag positions.)

For the local & humane food movement to truly expand, we’re going to need more policy support. Let’s jumpstart the process by always injecting food & ag topics into conversations about politics.

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