Trump’s Policy Stance Weakens Food Justice Efforts
Trump’s stance on policy, trade, climate change, and agriculture could make Food Justice a tougher fight for the next 4 years.
Though Trump hasn’t been too vocal about direct food policy, we can guess quite a bit from his policy direction of the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and immigration. However, any policy inferences made from Trump’s campaign rhetoric should be taken lightly. Now that he has been elected, Trump is going back on almost all of his campaign promises.
But this isn’t really a surprise as most Presidents fail to perform on thier campaign promises. Obama has recently been called out for not meeting one of his campaign promises (not the first time he hasn’t met them).
Donald Trump calls for severing the SNAP program from the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is a swiss army knife omnibus piece of legislation meant to serve as a multiyear guiding policy for anything to do with food and agriculture. This bill sets up policy restrictions and directs the flow of funding from the federal government to the respective sectors involved in agriculture.
Severings SNAP, a government assistance program for helping to feed those in need – generally those below the poverty line, gives policy makers an easier way to affect funding. Funding is now tied to the Farm Bill, cutting funding to SNAP is difficult because it involves potentially cutting funding to other agricultural concerns. However, once SNAP stands alone, cutting funding to the program will be much simpler.
Other areas of the Farm Bill have been hugely supported by Trump who campaigned on a platform aimed at agricultural reform to benefit the smaller farms and farmers as well as the larger agricultural corporations.
Immigration affects agriculture in this country as much as any other factor. Immigrant labor is largely responsible for agricultural labor and keeping end consumer food costs down. There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, many of whom work in the agriculture and food service sectors.
Trump originally wanted to build a wall, a topic he is already changing his mind on. Now he talks more of a fence with some sections as a wall where it would make sense. But the wall is only really a symbol of the idea that Trump wants illegal immigrants gone. Or does he.
Walking back his campaign promises also includes alluding to longer-term plans for deporting illegal immigrants. Trump has stated that he wants the criminal element of the illegal immigrant population deported. How identifying or deporting that population is possible was not disclosed due most likely to the fact that almost all of Trump’s campaign promises are not rooted in any political or policy reality. Meaning he talks a big game but has no idea how to make it happen.
Regardless of whether or not policy change will happen as Trump says, the implication for the agricultural sector is a huge cut in the labor force, increasing labor costs, decreased supply, and increased demand. Chappelle was right when he said that we don’t want to pick our own strawberries.
This one’s pretty easy to poke holes in. But first, what does the EPA have to do with Food Justice? The short and only answer is the end goals are generally the same. The EPA is tasked with protecting the environment, hence the name. While Food Justice is about finding ways to sustainably provide access to healthy food to everyone.
Trump has stated he thinks climate change is a hoax and is staffing the EPA accordingly with someone who also doesn’t believe in it.
Food Justice is a grassroots fueled concept of how to live equitably and healthily with each other and with our world. If the government doesn’t believe there is a problem, a shortage of grant funding and policy backing for the grassroots Food Justice movement could happen. While this wont stop any of us from fighting for a more equitable world, it sure could slow down the process.
How many go hungry in the meantime?
On a brighter note, Trump has talked heavily about rural development. With the rural areas typically the ones who favor a Republican candidate for Presidency, this rhetoric is not surprising. But is it merely pandering? He hasn’t spoken on rural development since the election, but walking back so many of his other campaign promises makes it hard to trust he’ll uphold this one either.
Rural development may mean more for agriculture in the Midwest more so than any other area. Production of various crops, including corn, soybeans, and livestock, depends heavily on government subsidies.
This could be a double-edged sword. If Trump’s “rural development” means more for factory farming than small farms, this promise could spell a setback to Food Justice.
Factory farming perpetuates an unsustainable model of agriculture in stark contrast to a sustainable method of small farmer organic farming models. A move back towards small farms would require doing away with government subsidies for factory farmed crops. And with Trump in play, this topic is very much up in the air.