Union of Concerned Scientists
Press Release on the Sept 13, 2022 letter to President Biden
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 13, 2022
Press Contact: Paris Kissel
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More Than 150 Organizations Across Sectors Call on President Biden to
Demand A Transformative Farm Bill
Advocates join together to lay out core values that must be reflected in the upcoming legislation
Washington, D.C. – Today, more than 150 organizations representing a range of sectors and sharing an interest in a stronger, more equitable farm and food system joined together to enlist President Biden as an ally and call on him to demand that the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill reflects his strong values. In a letter to the president, they ask him to weigh in on the next Farm Bill and demand that Congress build even further on the administration’s actions to date to reduce economic inequality; bridge the nation’s racial divides; end hunger; confront the climate crisis; improve nutrition and food safety; and protect and support farmers, workers, and communities.
Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill only every five years, and communities and the shared environment cannot afford to wait another half decade for meaningful and action-oriented change. That is why organizations and experts working in nutrition, farming, labor, rural development, equity, and climate, including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Fair Food Network, Farm Action, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Good Food For All Coalition, Health, Environment, Agriculture and Labor (HEAL) Food Alliance, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, Rural Coalition, Union of Concerned Scientists, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and more than 150 other organizations call on President Biden to demand a transformative Farm Bill that he can be proud to sign.
“President Biden has shown a deep understanding of the urgency of confronting the challenges facing our country – including the climate crisis, racial injustice and economic insecurity – and how transforming our food and farm system into one that is more resilient, equitable and sustainable is key to meeting those challenges,” said Dr. Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Union of Concerned Scientists Food & Environment Program. “The Farm Bill offers a path to build on the historic investments in the Inflation Reduction Act, boost key administrative actions already taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and advance the President’s values. We are proud to join with frontline communities in calling for a truly transformative Farm Bill and we look forward to working with the President, Secretary Vilsack and Congress to shape federal food and ag policy that meets the demands of our times.”
The letter, addressed directly to President Biden, outlines seven crucial values that the 2023 Farm bill needs to address and reflects the legislation’s wide-reaching impact. In recent years, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted – visibly and painfully for farmers, workers, and consumers – the U.S. food and farming system. The nation’s racial reckoning and recent inflation have also put a spotlight on inequities in the food and farm system that communities – especially communities of color, face every day. A transformative Farm Bill should build on the momentum and robust investments included in the Inflation Reduction Act, and those made by this administration to date.
Specifically, advocates call for the next Farm Bill to:
- Center Racial Justice – The next Farm Bill must be a racial justice bill. Equity and justice must be at the center of every facet of the next Farm Bill if we hope to repair historical and ongoing discrimination against farmers and communities of color, Tribal Nations, and food and farm workers and eliminate inequities throughout the food and farm economy.
- End Hunger – The next Farm Bill must protect and strengthen food assistance programs to ensure sufficient resources and access to a nutritious diet for all people who struggle against hunger and food insecurity as a result of wealth and income inequities often driven by systemic racism.
- Meet the Climate Crisis Head On – The next Farm Bill must be a climate bill. It must invest in research, technical assistance and financial incentives to enable farmers and ranchers to reduce emissions and to implement farming practices and labor policies that make their farms and workers better able to withstand extreme weather.
- Increase Access to Healthy Food – The next Farm Bill must tackle the nutrition crisis by improving nutrition security, which the Biden administration has defined as “consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, affordable foods essential to optimal health and well-being,” for all.
- Ensure Safety and Dignity for Food and Farm Workers – The next Farm Bill must invest substantially in the people who plant, harvest, process, transport, sell and serve our food, ensuring safety and a living wage, along with access to health care, clean housing, and the right to organize and join a union.
- Protect Farmers and Consumers – The next Farm Bill must build on administration efforts to promote competition in the food and agriculture sectors.
- Ensure the Safety of Our Food Supply – The Farm Bill must do more to address pathogens that originate on factory farms and to make the U.S. food supply safe for everyone.
“The Farm Bill is a pivotal piece of legislation that impacts hundreds of thousands of workers along our nation’s food chain,” said Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “As America’s largest private sector union, representing essential workers across the food processing and manufacturing, grocery retail, and farming, it has been the priority of the UFCW to protect and improve the lives of the workers who make our food and farming systems run. Too often, workers across these industries take a backseat to employer profit, but there is an opportunity with this year’s reauthorization of the Farm Bill to change that. Today, the UFCW – alongside this broad coalition of groups and every worker who is ready to fight for a better life – is calling on President Biden to fight for a transformational Farm Bill that prioritizes America’s workers.”
Ricardo Salvador, Marc Perrone, and other advocates and experts are available to comment on the wide-ranging impact of the upcoming Farm Bill and why it’s so important for President Biden to demand a transformative Farm Bill. Storytellers from the front lines of these issues, such as safety and dignity for food and farm workers, access to healthy food in homes and schools, and the severe impacts of climate change on farms and America’s food supply, are also available to discuss their powerful experiences.