Food & Farm Issue Update: Food on the Plate for GOP Candidates?

Unless you followed every word of every GOP debate, you might not know where the Republican presidential candidates stand on food and farm policy. Have no fear, as HeadCount is here to inform you on the issues NOT in the headlines.

  • School lunch is an issue we have discussed in past issue updates and a topic that has reared its head in the GOP. Michele “celery is my favorite food” Bachmann came out against USDA regulation of food lunches in one of her tweets stating, “Where in the Constitution does it say the federal government should regulate potatoes in school lunches? It doesn’t.” She’s now gone from the race, but fellow GOP candidate Rick Perry - who actually supported banning sugary soda’s in school cafeterias as governor of Texas - agreed with Bachmann that the federal school lunch food regulations were too stern. As for Ron Paul, well he hates regulation as well, but he wants to take it a step further and cut out school lunches all together!
  • Food Stamps is another hot topic among the GOP candidates. Newt Gingrich has been the most outspoken on the topic amongst the candidates and wants to do away with food stamps and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which helps nearly 20% of Americans get food. Gingrich sees the debate between Republicans and Democrats as “paychecks versus food stamps” and believes that President Obama is best described as the “the food stamp President.” One of his more interesting comments was when he said, “We’ve had people take their food stamp money and use it to go to Hawaii.”
  • Rick Perry was a farmer on his family ranch for 13 years after returning from being in the Air Force and won the race for Texas agriculture commissioner in 1990. An interesting fact about Perry is that during his farming days, a large portion of his income came from federal subsidies.
  • So what do all the other candidates have to say about farming? Well, Ron Paul wants to do away with the Department of Agriculture all together. Paul believes that the Department of Agriculture gives subsidies to corporations and raises food costs for “regular people.” Paul has joined the battle with farmers, even starting his own group in Iowa, Farmers for Ron Paul. This group is against the National Animal Identifitcation System (NAIS), which identifies and tracks animals for health and safety reasons. Winning cheers, though, from some small family farmers and people in the raw foods movement, Paul supports efforts legalize the sale of raw milk across state lines. On the other side of this debate, Governor Mitt Romney supports keeping farm subsidies and investing in the agriculture business in the United States, calling it “the key to our economies and families.”

As you can see, there is a lot to digest when it comes to food and farm policy and our GOP candidates. I hope I was able to help inform you on where these Presidential hopefuls stand on food and farm topics.