Groups try to get candidates’ attention for agricultural agendas | TSLN.com

Groups try to get candidates’ attention for agricultural agendas

At least two coalitions are trying to get the presidential candidates' attention for their food and agricultural agendas before the Iowa caucuses on February 1.

AGree, the foundation-financed effort on long-term agricultural policy, has issued a "call to action" to try to convince the candidates to strengthen the agricultural sector.

"Many people don't realize the degree to which food and agricultural policies shape our nation," said Dan Glickman, the former Kansas House member and Agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, in a news release. Glickman is one of the four co-chairs of AGree.

"Farmers and ranchers and the food and agriculture supply chain from 'farm to fork' contribute roughly 5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employ more than 12 million people, yet they face challenges with market volatility, drought, floods, disease, food safety and a reliable labor supply. Policy changes are urgently needed to overcome these challenges," Glickman said.

“Food and agriculture-related businesses contributed $878 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2013, and it’s critical to enact policy changes that will enable agriculture to continue to drive innovation, allow access to a stable workforce, protect the environment and empower future generations to provide safe, nutritious, affordable food.” Jim Moseley, former agriculture deputy secretary and AGree co-chair

"Food and agriculture-related businesses contributed $878 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2013, and it's critical to enact policy changes that will enable agriculture to continue to drive innovation, allow access to a stable workforce, protect the environment and empower future generations to provide safe, nutritious, affordable food," said Jim Moseley, a former Agriculture deputy secretary in the George W. Bush administration who is also an AGree co-chair.

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"Improving health and nutrition is a top priority for many American families and doing so can help reduce healthcare costs," said Kathleen Merrigan, the first Agriculture deputy secretary in the Obama administration and another AGree co-chair.

"More than 35 percent of American adults are obese, costing between $147 billion to $210 billion in health care costs a"AGree has forged unprecedented common ground between farmers and ranchers, companies, researchers, environmentalists, doctors and nutritionists and other experts who understand the interconnected nature of food and agriculture systems globally," said Emmy Simmons, a former U.S. Agency for International Development assistant administrator who is the fourth AGree cochair.

"We are committed to finding solutions and stand ready to serve as a resource to candidates interested in spurring transformative change."

AGree's agenda includes increasing support for agricultural research, immigration reform, aid to beginning farmers, balancing conservation with risk management policies and production incentives, improving the health of Americans and addressing world hunger through government programs.

Meanwhile, Ricardo Salvador, director of the Food and Environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Mark Bittman, the former New York Times columnist now with the meal delivery service Purple Carrot, were scheduled to travel to Des Moines last week to talk to the candidates' staff about changing the U.S. agricultural system "so that every American has equal access to healthy, affordable food; the agricultural and food system is fair to workers; and farmers are incentivized to reduce harmful agricultural practices," they said in a news release.

▪ "Commit to ensuring all Americans have access to healthy, affordable food.

▪ Stop companies from marketing junk food to kids and end subsidies that support processed junk food.

▪ Re-align agricultural subsidies to match the government's fruit and vegetable recommendations, and expand incentives for sustainable farming practices.

▪ Immediately ban the practice of feeding antibiotics to farm animals that are not sick, as this contributes to antibiotic resistance in humans."

Salvador and Bittman said they represent "a growing coalition of community groups, farmers, parents and scientists."

–The Hagstrom Report

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