Food Issues That Should’ve Been Front and Center in the 2020 Presidential Election
Over the years I’ve bemoaned the fact presidential candidates rarely focus on food-policy issues. In 2012, for example, I wrote a column on issues I thought the presidential candidates should be discussing but had ignored to date. I did the same in a 2016 column. Each time, my entreaties fell on deaf ears.
For this presidential election—taking place during a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on everything from food supply chains to restaurants—I decided to ask a handful of people from different areas of the food-policy realm to answer the following question in around 100 words: What is the key food-policy issue(s) the presidential candidates should be talking about (but aren’t)?
Several people, from various parts of the food-policy realm, responded. (Thanks!) Their unedited responses—save for adding a few hyperlinks where needed—are below. Keep in mind that this column presents a survey from across a wide spectrum of the food-policy world. Not all the ideas below are ones I (or Reason) endorse.
Jayson Lusk, Distinguished Professor & Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University: The COVID-19 related disruptions to our food supply chain revealed there were a number of barriers preventing food from freely flowing from areas of low demand (restaurants) to areas of high demand (grocery stores). In many instances, regulations were a major obstacle. For example, many eggs are delivered to restaurants in liquid form, and regulations prohibited eggs from these facilities being sold in grocery stores. The result was an unnecessarily large spike in grocery egg prices and an unnecessarily large fall in liquid egg prices. In many locales, restaurants were prohibited from selling food directly to consumers because they lacked grocery licenses.
Mike Callicrate, Rancher & Advocate: Food security is national security. We are currently dependent upon a few predatory multinational corporations for our food. They are also serial felons. For example, recently, JBS/Pilgrim’s Pride agreed to pay $110 million in fines for price-fixing. The campaigns should be offering plans to rebuild our nation’s food system around a more resilient and sustainable local/regional model, applying an urgent critical infrastructure approach. Initially, the new infrastructure should be paid for by the federal government, with a high priority on connecting producers as directly as possible with consumers, circumventing the current middlemen who have proven to be fragile and unreliable. There should be renewed efforts to address monopoly power and predatory practices to totally protect the new food economy.
Jeff Stier, Senior Fellow, Taxpayers Protection Alliance: Consistent with his deregulatory agenda, President Trump should have campaigned on a pledge to streamline food and agriculture regulation in a manner that would foste
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