Last week President Obama and Secretary Vilsack traveled to the Midwest for a three-day Rural Tour to talk about jobs and economic security for rural America. During the 2007 primary season, then Senator Barack Obama laid out a series of progressive agricultural policies that if enacted would do more to help keep farmers on the land and rebuild rural America than anything he mentioned on his entire trip.
His recent visit here gave us the opportunity to reflect on the campaign promises that he made back then here in Iowa to stimulate rural economies, regulate factory farms and protect farmers from massive food industry consolidation.
We'd like to know your thoughts on how you think President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have done in the past two and a half years. Please take just a 30 second survey right now? We have over 250,000 members --- letting them know how you feel can send a powerful message.
Click here to let us know if you approve of the job President Obama and Secretary Vilsack are doing to protect America’s farmers and our food supply. Or let us know if you think they can do a better job.
A few of the pending issues...
Organic and GMOs: Coexistence or the Road to Contamination?
While President Obama did make a stop at the Seed Savers Exchange, a famous heirloom seed bank, in Decorah, Iowa, he also made sure to balance that with a stop at a genetically engineered seed corn dealer in Atkinson, Illinois. Clearly, it would appear that President Obama is still hoping to have it both ways. What type of food do you want your family to eat?
Even so, there are a number of pending decisions on significant structural issues that President Obama and his administration need to make soon and they need to be made right. Compromise can be an important part of a democracy, but not when the livelihood of family farmers and rural America and the integrity of our food supply is on the line.
Antitrust Hearings: Incomplete
Last year the Obama administration held a series of important workshops looking into anti-competition abuses in food and agriculture sectors. That these hearings occurred in the first place were historic, but unfortunately the administration has failed to issue a report or take significant action against powerful corporate interests.
Food Democracy Now! delivered more than 200,000 comments to DOJ antitrust chief Christine Varney last December. Varney was widely praised for her commitment to enforcing antitrust violations, but last month she announced that she was leaving the DOJ for a white glove law firm without finishing the job.
Let us know if you think the Obama administration needs to do more to protect America’s farmers and consumers from massive food industry consolidation and the negative impact it has on our food supply.
Fair Market Livestock Rules: Incomplete
The other key area that President Obama promised farmers during the 2008 campaign was enforcing fair market livestock rules that would protect farmers from abusive contracts and price manipulation. But what seems like a reasonable and common sense solution is being blocked in Washington by the usual cartel of giant agribusiness lobbyists who would rather see the current unfair system continue so they can keep skimming all the farmer’s profits for themselves.
The truth is, Secretary Vilsack and the USDA have done the right thing and written a set of strong and fair rules that would offer livestock farmers legal protections in the marketplace for the first time. And for this, they’ve been vilified by Big Meat lobbyists who used their power to manipulate Congress in an effort to block this vital reform.
In order for America to grow we need to expand the circle so they hear the voice of the American people.
Please take a moment to tell them what you think. We will take the 10 most engaging and inovative responses telling the administration what they can do better and post them on our website. Those that are chosen will receive a FREE Food Democracy Now! t-shirt!
Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team
1. Politics, Farmers and Change: The End of Rural America, Huffington Post, 08/18/2011
2. Food Stamp Usage Across the Country, New York Times, 11/28/11
3. The Obama-Biden Plan for Rural America, Change.gov, 10/2007
4. President Obama's Wednesday Bus Tour Schedule: Town Halls in Atkinson & Alpha, Illinois, Obama Foodorama, August 17, 2011
5. Why Christine Varney Left the Justice Department, Suckerpunched on Anti-Trust, Counterpunch, 07/07/2011