Obama to Support Local and Organic Food

Story from http://www.familyfarmed.org/

By Jim Slama
President, FamilyFarmed.org

Obama

The election of Barack Obama as president bodes well for the future of local and organic food in America. He is a long time proponent of sustainable agriculture and local food systems. It is expected that his administration will take the lead in reforming policies and advancing new funding to take advantage of the incredible demand for responsibly grown food. In his Rural Plan, his campaign stated:

Barack Obama believes that together we can ensure a bright future for rural America. A senator from a rural, Midwestern state, Barack Obama has worked to ensure rural America’s prosperity and vitality. As president, he will help family farms and rural small businesses find profitability in the marketplace and success in the global economy. He will:

  • Ensure Economic Opportunity for Family Farmers
  • Support Rural Economic Development
  • Promote Rural America’s Leadership in Developing Renewable Energy
  • Improve Rural Quality of Life

In 1785, Thomas Jefferson said, “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.” Barack Obama believes that more than two centuries later, family farmers are still the cornerstone of American democracy. He will be a president who stands with family farmers and helps them thrive for generations to come.

Here are a few elements of his plan:

  • Encourage Organic and Local Agriculture: Obama and Biden will help organic farmers afford to certify their crops and reform crop insurance to not penalize organic farmers. They also will promote regional food systems.

  • Encourage Young People to Become Farmers: Obama and Biden will establish a new program to identify and train the next generation of farmers. They will also provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm.

  • Partner with Landowners to Conserve Private Lands: Obama and Biden will increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests.

  • Strong Safety Net for Family Farmers: Obama and Biden will fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability. They will implement a $250,000 payment limitation so that we help family farmers - not large corporate agribusiness. They will close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around the limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper corporations.

  • 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 and Biden 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.

  • 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.

  • Support Small Business Development: Obama and Biden will provide capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises, like cooperative marketing initiatives and farmer-owned processing plants. They also will establish a small business and micro-enterprise initiative for rural America.

  • Promote Leadership in Renewable Energy: Obama and Biden will ensure that our rural areas continue their leadership in the renewable fuels movement. This will transform the economy, especially in rural America, which is poised to produce and refine more American biofuels and provide more wind power than ever before, and create millions of new jobs across the country.

A few years ago, at the 20th Anniversary concert of Farm Aid, I had the honor of introducing Senator Obama to 30,000 adoring fans. His comments to the crowd clearly exhibited his knowledge and support for the family farm:

“Our reason for being here is to celebrate the family farm. WJim and Barake celebrate the family farm not only because it gives us the food we eat, but it also maintains a way of life. And it teaches us the values of decency and hard work and looking after one another. That’s what the farms of Illinois represent. That’s what the farms of Iowa, and Indiana, and Kansas represent. And we will not take them for granted and we will make sure they get the advocacy and support they need day in and day out.”

Obama’s passion for local and organic food was affirmed in an interview I did with him for the Farm Aid concert film where he said:

“The Good Food movement, the organic food movement is a wonderful opportunity for farmers to diversify. When they can diversify and get other crops going, we can in fact produce a healthier food. And more profits can go into the hands of family farmers as opposed to the big food processors and mega businesses. Then I think we are doing well for everybody.

The Family Farm I think represents a mythic part of American life. It represents hard work. It represents decency. It represents a sense that people are coming together and pitching in. The fact is that we haven’t always looked after our family farms. We haven’t nurtured and cultivated a way of life that has been so important to all of us.”

At FamilyFarmed.org we are excited at the prospects of working with the Obama administration to develop programs to support local and responsibly grown food. Newly designated Chief of Staff, Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel is another proponent of responsible agriculture. When combined with the strong support for local food systems in Illinois by Congressional leaders Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Jan Schakowsky, it bodes well for the future of local and organic food in our state and across the country.
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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on November 26, 2008

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