Organic Policy and Regulations, Social Implications in Agriculture, What is Organic

What Both Parties Ag Platforms Tell Us About the Future

Capitol HillWith both primaries behind us, it is nigh time to settle in and look beyond the chants and cheers, the ever waves of signs, the bright lights and impassioned speeches. It’s time to uncover the dirty details of where both parties stand on agricultural policy. What is the philosophical platform each one holds that will support us into our agrarian future? How do they compare with your ideas on food and farming? Let’s take a deep dive into both parties’ platforms! 

I don’t think I’ve ever paid as much attention to the primaries before this year. Every evening for two weeks I hunkered down with my canines and streamed with rapt attention. With so much at stake this year, it’s important to understand that these platforms are a formal set of goals supported by the party—they offer a clue to the policies that an Administration of that party might enact.

Here’s how things square up:

Starting with the GOP’s Ag Policy Platform

Improve Farm Bill process: It’s true that the last Farm Bill took too long to enact due in large part to a lack of leadership and inaction by Congress and the Administration. This created two years of great instability. The GOP says that it is dedicated to moving the country forward and finishing future Farm Bills in a timely manner.  

Take out SNAP: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (AKA Food Stamps) should not be included in future Farm Bills and should be implemented outside of USDA. According to the platform, removing SNAP from the Farm Bill and USDA would “correct a mistake.” It is worth noting that removing SNAP from a Farm Bill could destroy the rural-urban coalition that has historically been needed to pass a Farm Bill, making it harder to meet the GOP’s first goal of finishing future Farm Bills in a timely manner.

Rethink Crop Insurance: No segment of agriculture can expect treatment so favorable that it seriously disadvantages workers in other trades.

Rethink Land Use: Keep public lands open for grazing, energy production, and recreational activities.

Expand trade: The GOP is committed to expanding trade and opening new markets for producers while ensuring that high U.S. standards are held during negotiations with global trading partners. There is no mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Eliminate GMO labeling: The GOP platform opposes mandatory GMO labeling. According to the platform, intrusive and expensive federal mandates on scientifically proven safe food options should be ended in order to feed a growing world.

Data should belong to the farmers: The GOP, in the interest of protecting the safety of farmers and ranchers, will advance policies that protect the privacy, safety, and private ownership of individual farmer’s and rancher’s data.

Abolish the EPA and have states set environmental regulations: Conservation, according to the platform, should be voluntary and directed by property owners. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be converted into a bipartisan commission, and much of the agency’s power would be delegated to state governments.

Finally the Democratic Ag Policy Platform

Invest in Rural America: Democrats commit to growing rural economic investment by strengthening water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure that will enhance the competitiveness of rural businesses. Policies will be focused on increased funding to expand and support future generations of farmers and ranchers and support programs that protect family farms and expand both local food markets and regional food systems.

Improve Agricultural Worker Protections: The Environmental Protection Agency’s Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) does a great deal to protect farmworkers from pesticides and herbicides, but worker protections can and should go further. Ideas include improving agricultural worker protections through eliminating child labor, having adequate housing for migrant workers, regulating work hours, and providing sanitary working facilities.

Promote Equitable Trade: The platform acknowledges that global trade has not benefited all Americans. Future trade agreements must be transparent and not undercut American workers, compromise environmental standards, or benefit a select few. New trade agreements (including the Trans-Pacific Partnership) must have high environmental and labor standards, end corporate subsidies that hurt American businesses, promote innovation, and protect the health and well-being of the environment and American citizens.

Tackle Immigration Reform: The platform recognizes that our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. Immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. need to be completely incorporated into American society through our legal process. The platform intends to fix family backlogs and protecting legal immigration avenues. There should be a path to citizenship for law-abiding families.

Environmental Stewardship: The urgent threat of climate change needs immediate action. In the platform, there is a shared commitment to addressing climate change while limiting global temperature increases, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating jobs. The platform promotes collective stewardship of natural resources and continued economic opportunities in rural America. Producers that conserve and improve natural resources on their farms will be provided assistance and those participating in the bio-based economy will be provided loans to help spur sector growth.

Protect Food Stamps: The platform supports protecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP). According to the platform, no individual should experience hunger and programs that help put food on the table for struggling families should be protected

 Fight Chemical Substance Addiction: Chemical substance addiction is an epidemic in rural communities across the U.S. The platform commits to helping those with chemical dependency issues create healthy lives through encouraging full recovery programs and eliminating future barriers to employment, education, and housing.

fall foliageThe issues are complex and far reaching for everyone who farms and eats. The way we conduct our country and our Ag policy for the next four years will have a broad-reaching impact on the environment, our children and our health. The economic well-being of our rural farming community is at stake. The next generation of farmers depends on sound policy to support their entrance into the field. Our agrarian future is embedded in these future policies.

Please vote this year and make a choice for sustainable agriculture.

Details for this blog provided thanks to Marni Karlin, Vice President Government Affairs, The Organic Trade Association.


8 thoughts on “What Both Parties Ag Platforms Tell Us About the Future”

  1. Melody I am not really clear on the crop insurance issue that is part of the GOP proposal. Is that purchased by the farmer like any coverage or a subsidy of some type. The overall difference is quite significant between the two parties.

    1. Hi Pat,
      Thank you for the question. The GOP’s platform statement on farm insurance is a bit ambiguous.
      Crop insurance is purchased by farmers and it is also subsidized by monies that are assigned in the Farm Bill. So it is a little bit of both.
      What a difference indeed!

  2. good job on outlining some important differences between the parties. However, while it can be helpful to examine, most of the time party platforms are window dressing and not enacted even if the party wins the election

  3. Melody, There is one very serious problem that has been over looked. Because of the chemical companies or not familiar with what I am concerned about. I used 24-D herbicide to control weeds one year in 1949. I made a mistake and applied to much at the turn around leaving a quarter moon area nothing would grow. Never used it again and started my own experimenting on my Vermont Dairy with Organic VS Chemicals. It took three years to stop using any chemicals herbicide, fertilizer and insecticide. This is just about herbicide which is a growth hormone that stimulates the weeds so fast they wilt.

    It is the worst thing that can happen to the children World Wide. It does not all go on the weeds but more ends up on the soil. The use started in the 1940’s and after 5 to 6 decades it has worked its way up through the food plants. Now found in 93% of human blood and Mothers breast milk. I am a observing commons sense logical farmer gardener. It is predicted 50% of children world wide will have AUTISM by 2025. This will be the biggest tragedy to ever hit plant earth.

    The big chemical companies are making billion and destroying the future generations. The Congress is allowing this to happen. If band now it may be to late because of the time to show in babies blood from many sources. My logic: Babies are developing their unstable natural hormone system. The unnatural hormones can override the natural an cause AUTISM. The research is Genetics’ and children’s immune shots. If stopped now with the billions of gallons applied to the soil for so long it will take many years to disspatate if ever. It is time to put some of the billions of dollars into saving our children instead of global warming of which there is not a good reason or facts causing it as the Scientist. It is all how they have ruined our fertile soil with hot acid chemicals. Burning up the organic matter that is the insulation to keep the soil cool from the sun rays.

    I have a better reason that the chemical companies are getting away with for money over humanity. I can write much more if interested. This is just a fraction of what is happening to the worlds fertile soil where all food comes from. I explain a lot in my Book “Learned by the Fencepost” Lessons in Organic Farming & Gardening published in 2011. Enter the name on Google for a review. Hope to hear from you. Please put Donald in the first 10 words so I can key on it. I get two hundred inbox messages and junk daily.

    made chemical that was built up over millions of years by the Master. Man has ruined it in eighty trying to out do him. (GOD)

    1. Hi Donald,
      Thank you for your thoughtful and informed reply. Transitioning more acreage into organic production is needed now more than ever if we are going to help heal our planet.
      Thank you for your work and your great book!

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