Food Policy Action Midterm Progress Report Shows Congress Falling Short

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Food Policy Action Midterm Progress Report Shows Congress Falling Short

Midterm report card reflects turbulent political environment and a lack of votes on positive food policy measures

Washington, D.C., November 1, 2017 – Today, Food Policy Action released its 2017 Congressional Scorecard. This 6th annual scorecard is a midterm progress report published halfway through the 115th Congress to educate the public with objective, factual information about votes taken and bills introduced by Congress on critically important food issues.

The Senate was graded on 1 vote and 10 bills, and the House on 5 votes and 11 bills. Unfortunately, there was little headway on the passage of good food policies. Scores were down significantly this year, especially in the Senate, which included only the confirmation vote of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt based on his blatant record opposing the very agency he was nominated to lead. The majority of House votes were dangerous anti-regulatory bills that would roll back many basic protections in our food system. Neither the House nor the Senate spent much time on food issues this year, leaving little to score and more extreme scores than in years with more available votes. The FPA Scorecard’s takeaway: Washington is falling short when it comes to food policy, showing little progress in this first year of the 115th Congress.

“We deserve better,” said FPA co-founder, food advocate, and chef Tom Colicchio. “Food policy is connected to every critical issue faced by this great nation. Yet Congress has allowed the political dysfunction of a new Administration to not only prevent positive food bills from moving forward, but to roll back basic critical protections that keep our food system safe. This is unacceptable. FPA will continue to hold members of Congress accountable for the votes they cast – or I should say lack of votes this year – that impact food and our food system.”

This year, 130 Members – 80 House Members and 50 Senate Members – received 0 percent, the lowest possible mathematical score for this year’s report. The overall midterm scores averaged 49 percent across both chambers, down from 57 percent for the 114th Congress. Worth noting:  220 members of Congress – 140 in the House of Representatives and 40 in the Senate – received perfect scores of 100 percent.

“These scores are extreme because this is where Congress stands in such a turbulent political environment with a frustrating lack of bipartisanship on food policy votes,” said Ken Cook, FPA co-founder, board chairman, and EWG President. “Food policy is not a partisan issue. Congress should prioritize a more balanced, healthy and sustainable food system.  With this year’s report showing great room for improvement, I hope that Congress will do more next year than this year. In 2018, voters need a clearer sense of where their legislators stand on issues that affect the food system. We must all communicate with our legislators about the scorecard and let them know that we want good food policies prioritized in 2018.”

The few bright spots for the food movement highlighted in the Scorecard were Republican and Democrat proposals including a bill proposed by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) to require greater transparency in commodity checkoff programs to prevent anti-competitive activities, a bill sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to provide agricultural workers with a fairer legal immigration program, bills proposed by Reps. Susan Davis (D-CA-53) and Alma Adams (D-NC-12) to revise food assistance programs so that the benefits better afford a healthy diet, a bill sponsored by Rep. John Faso (R- NY-19) to improve oversight of organic imports, amendments by Reps. Jared Huffman (D-CA-02) and Elizabeth Esty (D-CT- 05) to maintain basic protections in the Clean Water Act. And there were more, but overall the Scorecard illustrates a weak food policy agenda midway through the 115th Congress.

“We applaud those in Congress who broke through the noise to raise their voice for the good food movement; even those not scored in this midterm report, but their efforts did not go unnoticed,” said FPA Executive Director, Monica Mills. “Safe, nutritious, affordable food for all matters greatly to all Americans across party lines, and while this year’s Scorecard shows a weak Congressional agenda on food policy, this is only a midterm score. Congress has a huge opportunity to show leadership on these issues as we move into discussions ahead of the 2018 Farm Bill. It is our job to hold them accountable during the next election cycle.”

Read the complete 2017 midterm Food Policy Scorecard for the 115th Congress here.

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Media Contact: Betsy Barrett, 202-997-3266, betsy@foodpolicyaction.org

About Food Policy Action: Food Policy Action was established in 2012 through a collaboration of national food policy leaders in order to hold legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming. Our goal is to change the national dialogue on food policy by educating the public on how elected officials are voting on these issues. Through education and FPA’s Scorecard, more people will be armed with the information they need to advocate for sound food policy and to elect more food policy leaders across the country. Find out more at www.foodpolicyaction.org.

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