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Scores Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Scores Don’t Tell the Whole Story

By | December 13th, 2013 | FPA Blogs & News, Press Releases - Food Policy Action |

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Food Policy Action was created last year to promote sensible food policies through education and the publication of its annual scorecard, which tracks how legislators vote on issues that affect all of us – ranging from the safety of our food to the treatment of farm animals.

By Claire Benjamin Food Policy Action was created last year to promote sensible food policies through education and the publication of its annual scorecard, which tracks how legislators vote on issues that affect all of us – ranging from the safety of our food to the treatment of farm animals. This week, FPA released its…


By Claire Benjamin Food Policy Action was created last year to promote sensible food policies through education and the publication of its annual scorec...

By Claire Benjamin

Food Policy Action was created last year to promote sensible food policies through education and the publication of its annual scorecard, which tracks how legislators vote on issues that affect all of us – ranging from the safety of our food to the treatment of farm animals.

This week, FPA released its 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard to help voters identify which lawmakers are working for better food policies. It turns out there are 87 good food champions in the 113th Congress – 14 senators and 73 representatives.

But, votes don’t always tell the whole story. Several lawmakers with less than perfect scores are among the most committed champions for reducing hunger, reforming wasteful farm subsidies, and supporting local farmers.

For example, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who received a score of 67 percent, has tirelessly fought to make food safer and better for us – introducing legislation to increase testing of ground beef and to improve communication with consumers during recalls.  She has also championed better nutrition by leading efforts to ban the use of trans fat and to eliminate the sale of junk foods in schools.  Gillibrand may be best known for her efforts to restore cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by offering an amendment to instead cut subsidies for insurance companies.

Another example is Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who has continued to fight for farm subsidy reform since moving from the House to the Senate. As a Senator, Flake has introduced bills and amendments to help family farmers by gradually reducing crop insurance subsidies and by fighting to end “direct” subsidy payments tied to past farm production.

Additionally, Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, both from Rhode Island voted against final passage of the Senate Farm Bill in part because of the $4 billion cut to the SNAP program.

And if it weren’t for the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the farm bill being finalized by the House and Senate would be far worse. Stabenow received a score of 50 percent by FPA, but she has defended food assistance programs, fought hard to require good stewardship as a condition of receiving crop insurance subsidies, and worked towards making the “farm” bill a “food” bill by including new resources for local food. But, as the lawmaker responsible for writing this key legislation in the Senate, Stabenow had little choice but to defend the bipartisan bill, and vote against amendments offered by her colleagues.

These are just a few examples of great food policy leaders in Congress who must be measured by more than their voting records alone.

Its also important to mention some discrepancies between legislators voting records and co-sponsored bills. For example many legislators who voted against a Senate amendment to that would have permitted states to require labeling of genetically engineered foods are actually co-sponsors of legislation to make the absence of such a label illegal in every state. Why? Because some Senators would like to give all consumers the right to know what’s in their food — not just consumers in states that pass their own bills. The other part of the answer has to do with Congress not taking enough votes on important food policy, which we will explore more in the coming months, stay tuned.

 

Food Policy Action’s Congressional Scorecard Names 87 Good Food Champions

Food Policy Action’s Congressional Scorecard Names 87 Good Food Champions

By | December 10th, 2013 | Blogs, FPA Blogs & News |

uscapitol
Food Policy Action, a national nonprofit organization, today announced that 87 members of Congress - 73 House members and 14 senators -- have received perfect scores on its 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard.

Washington, D.C. – Food Policy Action, a national nonprofit organization, today announced that 87 members of Congress – 73 House members and 14 senators — have received perfect scores on its 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard. “Few things have as much of an impact on our lives as food,” said Tom Colicchio, owner of Craft Restaurants…


Washington, D.C. - Food Policy Action, a national nonprofit organization, today announced that 87 members of Congress - 73 House members and 14 senators --...

Washington, D.C. – Food Policy Action, a national nonprofit organization, today announced that 87 members of Congress – 73 House members and 14 senators — have received perfect scores on its 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard.

“Few things have as much of an impact on our lives as food,” said Tom Colicchio, owner of Craft Restaurants and FPA board member. “That’s especially true for the families who don’t have enough to eat. Until now, voters had no simple way to find out whether their lawmakers voted to cut or protect food assistance for the neediest Americans. Thanks to the FPA scorecard, now they know.”

Senators were graded on six votes and House members on 13 votes related to hunger, food aid, food labels and farm subsidies.

Click here to see full list of Good Food Champions in the Senate.

Click here to see full list of Good Food Champions in the House.

Launched last year, FPA is the first national organization to publish an annual scorecard that grades lawmakers on congressional food policy votes. An advisory council of food policy experts picks which votes are relevant and should be scored. The FPA Board of Directors approves those choices.

“Over the course of the last two years, numerous votes have been taken to alter domestic and international food assistance programs, many with profound consequences for hungry people,” said Ray Offenheiser, Oxfam President and FPA board member. “All legislators have had to choose whether they will stand up for the people who are struggling to get enough to eat or if they will instead side with special interests. These officials should be on notice that their constituents will use this scorecard to measure their performance.”

“This scorecard, the second FPA has issued, provides compelling evidence that food policy need not be a partisan issue,” said Ken Cook, FPA board chair and EWG president. “Many Republicans – including Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins – scored better than their Democratic colleagues. There is no question but that food has become more political in 2013. Hardly a day goes by when policymakers aren’t debating whether to cut SNAP, the food stamp program, reform farm subsidies, roll back food safety standards, reduce the use of antibiotics, pay food workers a living wage or set standards for the humane treatment of farm animals.”

Colicchio, Offenheiser and Cook are joined on FPA board by Robin Schepper, former executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative; Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; Gary Hirshberg, co-founder and chairman of Stonyfield Farm; Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer and president of the Humane Society of the United States; Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest; Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!; Mia Dell, chief lobbyist for United Food and Commercial Workers; Navina Khanna, co-founder of Live Real; and John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association.

Seasoned Food and Agriculture Policy Expert to Manage FPA

Seasoned Food and Agriculture Policy Expert to Manage FPA

By | December 5th, 2013 | FPA Blogs & News, Press Releases - Food Policy Action |

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Claire Benjamin, a seasoned Washington expert on food and agriculture policy, has been named managing director of Food Policy Action, the national organization’s board announced today.

For Immediate Release Contact: Sara Sciammacco, ssciammacco@foodpolicyaction.org Seasoned Food and Agriculture Policy Expert to Manage FPA Washington, D.C. — Claire Benjamin, a seasoned Washington expert on food and agriculture policy, has been named managing director of Food Policy Action, the national organization’s board announced today. Benjamin will be responsible for managing FPA’s day-to-day operations, updating and providing…


For Immediate Release Contact: Sara Sciammacco, ssciammacco@foodpolicyaction.org Seasoned Food and Agriculture Policy Expert to Manage FPA Washington, ...

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sara Sciammacco, ssciammacco@foodpolicyaction.org

Seasoned Food and Agriculture Policy Expert to Manage FPA

Washington, D.C. — Claire Benjamin, a seasoned Washington expert on food and agriculture policy, has been named managing director of Food Policy Action, the national organization’s board announced today.

Benjamin will be responsible for managing FPA’s day-to-day operations, updating and providing analysis for its National Food Policy Scorecard, overseeing the group’s advocacy and fundraising efforts and handling social media outreach.

“We’re thrilled that Claire will be leading our team as we continue our work to reform our broken food and farm system,” said FPA board chair Ken Cook. “Claire has been a champion for a wide range of policies that support family farmers and sustainable farming. She is highly regarded by all of her peers and very well equipped to advise and guide us through the political thickets of congressional food and farm policy.”

Prior to joining FPA, Benjamin spent nine years working on federal food and agriculture policy on Capitol Hill. Most recently, she served as legislative director and senior advisor for Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and was instrumental in drafting the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, which aims to increase access to healthy food and promote local agriculture.

“Claire has been a fantastic partner over the last five years in our work to make common sense reforms to federal agriculture policy,” said Rep. Pingree  “She is a tireless and impassioned advocate for improving our food system so it works better for everyone. I’m excited to see her go to such an important organization as Food Policy Action, where her commitment and savvy can continue to push the movement forward.”

A native Vermonter, Benjamin also served on the staff of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). She is a graduate of the University of Vermont in Burlington.

Launched last year, FPA was created to highlight the importance of policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, protect public health and the environment, reduce food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems and treat farm animals humanely.

FPA promotes these policies through education and the publication of its annual scorecard. On Tuesday, Dec. 10, FPA board members will release the 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard at a press conference at Graffiato restaurant in Washington, D.C. The scorecard will rate lawmakers of the 113th Congress on food and farm votes taken in the first session.

“Claire’s work will be critical in increasing transparency in the legislative process and holding all of our elected leaders accountable for their food and farm votes,” said Cook. “The public should know when their lawmakers cast votes that hurt farmers, slash funding for hungry families or weaken food safety laws.”

Media advisory: Chef Colicchio, Food and Farm Advocates to Release 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard

Media advisory: Chef Colicchio, Food and Farm Advocates to Release 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard

By | December 3rd, 2013 | FPA Blogs & News, Press Releases - Food Policy Action |

colicchio
Chef Tom Colicchio and other Food Policy Action board members will hold a press conference on Tuesday (Dec. 10) for accredited journalists to release the 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard.

MEDIA ADVISORY CONTACT: Claire Benjamin cbenjamin@foodpolicyaction.org Washington, D.C. – Chef Tom Colicchio and other Food Policy Action board members will hold a press conference on Tuesday (Dec. 10) for accredited journalists to release the 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard. The annual scorecard ranks members of Congress based on their votes on food and farm related issues. Chef…


MEDIA ADVISORY CONTACT: Claire Benjamin cbenjamin@foodpolicyaction.org Washington, D.C. – Chef Tom Colicchio and other Food Policy Action board m...

MEDIA ADVISORY

CONTACT: Claire Benjamin cbenjamin@foodpolicyaction.org

Washington, D.C. – Chef Tom Colicchio and other Food Policy Action board members will hold a press conference on Tuesday (Dec. 10) for accredited journalists to release the 2013 National Food Policy Scorecard.

The annual scorecard ranks members of Congress based on their votes on food and farm related issues. Chef Colicchio is a board member of the group, which was founded last year by Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook. 

What: Press conference with FPA board members to release 2013 scorecard

When: 1:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 10

Where: Graffiato restaurant, 707 6th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

Who: Chef Tom Colicchio, Craft restaurants owner and FPA board member; Ken Cook, EWG president and FPA board chair; Chef Mike Isabella, owner of Graffiato

About FPA:

Its mission is to highlight the importance of food policy and promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, protect public health and the environment, reduce food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems, and treat farm animals humanely. FPA promotes positive policies through education and publication of the scorecard.

Please RSVP ssciammacco@foodpolicyaction.org if you plan to attend.

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Food Policy Action's Mission / Our Mission

Our mission is to highlight the importance of food policy and to promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers, increase transparency, improve public health, reduce the risk of food-borne illness, support local and regional food systems, protect and maintain sustainable fisheries, treat farm animals humanely and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production. Food Policy Action promotes positive policies through education and publication of the National Food Policy Scorecard.

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