U.S. election season is already heating up, with the first presidential debate of the 2020 campaign season held two weeks ago. And as the past few years have shown, we know elections matter.
From food access and nutrition programs, to corporate consolidation and immigration policy — elections determine much about the food we eat, how the people producing food are treated, and the impact of agriculture on workers, communities and the environment.
PAN strives for farmworker justice, healthy farm communities and fair farm economies — locally, nationally and internationally. We advocate for policies that will create a food system that works for all. As election season heats up, we’ll be asking candidates for elected office the questions listed below — and we encourage others who care about the future of food and farming to do the same.
On worker justice & healthy communities
- Today’s widespread use of hazardous pesticides in agriculture is undermining the health of U.S. farmers, farmworkers, rural families, and frontline communities. Science clearly links even low levels of exposure to increased risk of cancer and many other harms, and children are especially vulnerable. How will you protect frontline communities from pesticides?
- Agriculture — including produce, dairy and meat production — is dependent on the labor of roughly two million farmworkers, the majority of whom are undocumented. Families are ripped apart by deportations, and rural economies and communities are crippled by chronic labor shortages. What kind of immigration reform will you promote to address this problem?
On fair farm economies
- Three chemical companies now control the majority of the global seed market; this leaves farmers around the world with fewer, more expensive options as profits continue to leave the farm and collect in corporate boardrooms. How will you address corporate consolidation in agriculture, and bring profits back to farmers and their communities?
- Across the country and around the globe, low commodity prices force farmers to overproduce to make ends meet. Meanwhile, as crops are planted fencepost to fencepost, waterways are increasingly contaminated and soil erodes at unsustainable rates. How will you work with farmers to create an agricultural future that is both economically viable and environmentally sustainable?
- Chemical-intensive farming has created resistant weeds on farms across the Midwest. In response, the pesticide industry introduces new seeds genetically modified to withstand a new generation of herbicides, keeping farmers trapped on an endless pesticide treadmill. Every season, these herbicides drift, destroying millions of acres of neighbors’ crops. How will you help farmers step away from this failing system, and reclaim control of their farm inputs and farms?
On a food system for the future
- Farmers are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, facing huge losses from increasingly intense floods, droughts, fires and temperature changes. Meanwhile chemical-intensive agriculture is responsible for an estimated 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Evidence shows that ecological farming not only makes farms more resilient, but can actually sequester carbon from the atmosphere. How will you support farmers in the transition to climate-friendly farming?
- Farmers over the age of 65 now outnumber farmers under 35 by a margin of six to one, and U.S. farmland is overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of older farmers. Meanwhile, new farmers struggle to get into the business, and access to land is a key hurdle. How will you support the next generation of farmers and ranchers?
- People of color are disproportionately excluded from producing and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, largely as a result of historical and current discriminatory policies. What will you do to help disenfranchised communities establish sustainable and equitable access to good food, and the resources required to produce it?
Photo: Dustin Oliver | Flickr